The new data storage and display scheme can have exciting implications for personal 3D entertainment, product visualizations for manufacturing and marketing and secure 3D data storage and transmission.

"We have developed a method of using QR codes along with smartphones to enable encrypted 3D information to be securely displayed on mobile devices," said Bahram Javidi, project team leader from the University of Connecticut in US.

"The QR codes we developed store compressed and encrypted images, which can be easily scanned, decrypted, and decompressed by commercial smartphones for secure 3D visual communication," he added.

The engineers also addressed an intrinsic security flaw with QR codes. Currently, if a link to a website is stored in the QR code, a smartphone will automatically link to that website and access the data stored there, but that website may contain malicious programming.

"In the new method, we store self-contained slices of data in the QR codes themselves. It is then possible to receive and visualise 3D images without using the internet," Javidi said.

The team believes this is a highly secure method for data transfer. The research was published in The Optical Society's journal Optica.