Rio de Janeiro is mixing technology with tradition to provide tourists information about the city by embedding bar codes into the black and white mosaic sidewalks that are a symbol of the city.
The city installed its first two-dimensional bar codes, or QR codes, as they’re known, at Arpoador, the massive boulder that separates Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. The image was built into the sidewalk with the same black and white stones that decorate sidewalks around town with mosaics of waves, fish and abstract images.

With an accompanying smartphone application, onlookers were able to take snapshots of the mosaic QR codes with their phones or tablets before being directed to a website that disbursed information in Brazil’s native Portuguese, and also in Spanish and English. A map of the area was also included.

They learned, for example, that Arpoador gets big waves, making it a hot spot for surfing and giving the 500-meter beach nearby the name of “Praia do Diabo,” or Devil’s Beach. They could also find out that the rock is called Arpoador because fishermen once harpooned whales off the shore.

Each stone code reportedly takes about seven days to construct due to the level of precision necessary to make it scan, though some future iterations will be constructed out of different recycled materials. The next four, expected by March, will pop up at Redra do Leme, Sao Conrado Beach, Mirante do Leblon and Pepe Beach in Barra da Tijuca.

The Department of Conservation said it plans to implement the co-called QRIO project at 30 locations across the city by the year’s end and 50 locations by July 2014 when Rio hosts the FIFA World Cup.