How Google and goofy barcodes will save you money

Not content with revolutionizing how you search for information online, Google is planning to change how you interact with local shops and restaurants. As part of the company's bid to become more relevant in local search and provide searchers with more means of finding what they want, when they want it -- no matter where they are, Google has sent barcodes to 100,000 stores in 9,000 towns in all 50 states to make searching on the go as simple as taking a picture.

Google is calling the new feature "Favorite Places on Google" and marking a business as a favorite is just one of the many things you can do after scanning the QR barcode on a local shop window.

On the Official Google Blog, they envision shoppers being able to scan the QR code (a weird looking barcode pictured below) and instantly see important information about a business, including reviews and coupons to save money and make smarter decisions.

This is a really cool feature and as it becomes more popular it will become a great tool for shoppers to save money. Just like you can instantly see the feedback of an eBay seller or an online store, a QR code will let you know if you can enjoy a carefree lunch or if you need to avoid the tuna salad sandwich.

Services like this won't just save you from food poisoning, they'll also help you steer clear of businesses who sell sub-par products or treat their customers poorly. At some point in the future QR codes will be as common as a, "Thank you! Come again," placard. Even the absence of one tell you something about a business.

The ability to get coupons on the go is already a reality with apps like Coupon Sherpa and Yowza, which let users find coupons based on their location. But imagine how many more businesses would get involved and add a coupon to their storefront if they knew Google was involved.

Scanning a QR code with a smart phone is very straightforward, after choosing an application like QuickMark for the iPhone or Barcode Scanner for Android, you just point your phone's camera at the QR code and you'll be taken to a browser with that store's information. You can give it a try by scanning the barcode to the right; it will take your mobile phone browser to

You can explore a sampling of business who are part of the Favorite Places program and, if you are a business who would like to participate in the program, sign up to be included in future updates.

For a better idea how this works, and how you could actually use this service to save money and make smarter decisions, check out the video below.

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