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How barcodes are used in modern times

An informative guide on how barcodes and the technology associated with barcodes is growing along with the modern world

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Image: KnowTechie

The technology associated with UPC barcodes has shaped the way we live our everyday lives. They were first created by two inventors by the names of Joe Woodland and Bernhard Silver in 1952. The first one was scanned in a Marsh Supermarket in Ohio, America in 1974, it was on a packet of Wrigley’s Chewing gum. This occasion marked history being made and is celebrated each year in Ohio.

Since then, the technology has developed extensively and advanced to whole new levels. A massive range has been developed as well as different ways of utilizing each different kind. This has revolutionized the way we conduct business in the modern world of today. These days, we rely on UPC barcodes to make our lives as efficient and smooth as humanely possible.  But what is the way forward? What awaits us in the future?  How will they develop and what new kinds will be created?  Only one thing is certain. Technology is developing at a rapid pace and the future is bright and exciting.  is very excited to be part of this revolution and we invite you to join us for the ride.

The first format that was created is called one dimensional, linear UPC barcodes. These are simple barcodes that cannot store such information. They are able to be scanned by a scanner. The most common and popular one-dimensional format that is used in South Africa as well as throughout the world is called EAN and UPC barcodes. They originated in America and then spread throughout the world. They are used mostly in retailers in order to sell products in a fast and efficient manner. Another way that they are used is to assist with stock control and inventory checks.

Another format developed include ITF-14’s that are also called Box or case barcodes. These are used when you need to supply your products in bulk.  You also get ISSN and ISBN barcodes that are used within the publishing world in order to track and control sales of books and magazines.

In these modern days, the focus has shifted from these one dimensional UPC barcodes to the more complex two-dimensional format.  An important example of two dimensional are the very popular Quick Response Codes. These codes consist of a square image with dots and other shapes set against a black background. There are two main benefits of using QR codes.

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Image: Unsplash

Firstly, they are able to store a lot more information than the more traditional linear ones. They are commonly used to store a specific URL. Secondly, they are able to be scanned by any Smartphone. This makes them more versatile and accessible to the general public.  QR codes are taking over the retail world. They are used in marketing a business by allowing public access to the business URL. This boosts the public’s awareness of your business and encourages them to buy your products.

QR codes are also used in SnapScan and other such payment applications. These are applications that can be downloaded onto smartphones, which allow the client to pay for their purchases by simply scanning one and following the prompts. In these modern days, many people are moving away from carrying cash or credit cards and often prefer to be able to pay with their smartphones. Quick Response codes make this possible. When buying these codes they will be linked to your specific business URL so that you are ready to start boosting your business in no time at all.

However, the future is even more exciting than this.  Another important development is image recognition technology.  This means that the actual object becomes scan-able all by itself. Each product does not have actual barcodes on them but is recognized by the image recognition software as the product that it is.  This technology makes use of Digimarc barcodes. The UPC or EAN depending on which country you are in is embedded in the surface of the product. It is able to transmit the needed information to the sales system of retailers at a much faster rate, saving both time and money and eliminating human error.

Radio frequency identification is also an exciting development brought about recently. RFID tags can be described as a kind of tracking system that makes use of smart barcodes to identify items. These tags make use of radio waves in order to transfer information from the tag to the RFID reader. RFID tags are being used in merchandise, tracking vehicles, pets, and even Alzheimer patients. They have also been used in hospitals to track medication and other resources and ensure that nothing is being stolen or misused. Radio Frequency identification assists in the collection of data and eliminate human error as much as possible.

UPC barcodes have also been entering other spheres of life, such as furniture design and architecture. Designers are integrating them as their inspiration in how they design their art and buildings. Beauty Salons are even incorporating them into their work.  People are now able to get their nails painted with UPC barcodes as the main inspiration.  You can even get a tattoo with the image on and sometimes these tattoos even scan, how amazing is that? Interior design has also been revolutionized by UPC barcodes. The minimalistic lines are being incorporated into wall hangings and kitchen design.

Technology is set to develop even further in the future.  Our lives would not be the same without barcodes. We often take them for granted and do not realize their full significance. We are able to provide you with all your barcoding information and we are more than happy to answer any questions you have about the process of acquiring UPC barcodes and how they can be used to boost your business in the competitive world of today. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information you may need.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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