The Guardian has reported that Brazilians and tourists will soon find Rio to be one of Brazil’s popular tech centers. Anyone doubting Rio de Janeiro’s techward shift need only look at the famous pavement mosaics that mark the promenade along Copacabana beach. These black and white patterns have traditionally resembled the waves across which early settlers and modern tourists travelled. Last year, however, that antique, analogue design has been partly reconfigured to reflect a digital future with the addition of tiled QR codes for smartphones.The tiles show online maps and tourists websites, which will be helpful for visitors during the the 2014 and 2016 sporting events. However, the tiles have much more significance. The tiled codes are part of an attempt to makeover Rio into a Latin-American technology hub. This is partly an attempt to ride a nationwide trend. Brazil is rapidly embracing wireless technology and social networks. Thanks to a surge in recent years, there are now more mobile phones (268.4m) in the country than people. Tablet sales have jumped from 220,000 at the beginning of 2012 to more than 5m today. And Facebook use has increased to the point where Brazil is now second only to the US in terms of the number of users.
In Rio alone, Telecom providers are now launching 4G networks, Microsoft has announced a new $100m technology center in the city, and Cisco Systems plans a $500m innovation center in the city as well. General Electric has opened its first research and development center at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro’s $500m technology park, which also includes Siemens, Haliburton and Schlumberger among its tenants.
Visitors and Brazilians alike will soon see Rio as both a popular tourist destination, and a center for technological innovation.