Point-and-Shoot Shopping

Popular in Japan, camera-phone-based technology could turn U.S. handsets into storefronts

Take a picture of the quick response code, which automatically links to a website.

The humble bar code is getting hip. And with it, a luxury brand hopes to usher in a revolution in U.S. retailing. Later this month, in a campaign pegged to tennis' U.S. Open, Ralph Lauren will start helping American consumers use their camera phones to experience Japanese-style point-and-shoot shopping.

To promote mobile commerce in the U.S., Lauren is putting a newfangled bar code called a QR code--short for "quick response"--in his company's store windows and on its advertisements and catalogs. QR codes were created in 1994 to track auto parts during manufacturing since the codes can carry large amounts of quickly...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!