You may have noticed small, black and white, pixilated squares recently appearing in magazines and marketing materials or on signs and product packaging. Designed to work with cell phones, mobile tags instantly link to additional information when you scan them. They’re decoded by a tag reader application installed on a web-enabled camera phone. When you scan a tag with your phone’s camera, it opens a web page, displays a message or takes some other action on the phone to connect you to new content.

Mobile tagging is rapidly increasing as businesses and individuals discover creative uses for the technology. Businesses are capitalizing on the marketing and sales potential of the tags by driving consumers to websites for special offers, launching surveys, linking to additional product and service information and delivering exclusive content. Individuals are using tags on business cards and resumes to automatically download their contact information to a recipient’s phone or to provide virtual work samples.

There are a number of different types of mobile tags, including Microsoft Tag, QR codes, Data Matrix, Cool-Data-Matrix, Aztec, Upcode, Trillcode, Quickmark, shotcode, mCode and Beetagg. Different types of tags require different types of readers; most are available as free downloads. Many of the tag types also offer free tag generators for personal and commercial use.

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