What are Barcodes?

Written by Delroy Ricketts.

With regard to similar technologies for the use of item identification, the ‘Bar Code’ has got to be seen as a the daddy" from a commercial perspective because it has been longevity and cheapness according to (supplychaindigital.com, 2010). This is just one in the group of technologies called ‘Automatic Identification and Data Capture’ (AIDC).  The barcode has had a revolutionary impact on society’s way of life since the 1970’s and is now a deep rooted technology which is used in a universal manner for automated identification. Evidence suggests (www.gs1.org) the bar code system works on the premise, that contrasting bars of varying thickness are printed onto a surface. The bars are 1 dimensional and represent numbers and letters and are read by an optical reader converting the converting bars to data by analysing the reflective light waves and cross referencing a unique id which is held in a database to attain automatic identification via optical data capture. The most widely used directional type of barcode is the GS1-128 barcodes able to store up to 128-bits of ASCII characters that make up the identification information available to be read. However, within retail sales environments they tend to use group of omnidirectional type of bar codes called EAN/UPC and these typically can only hold up to 13 numerical characters of data. Unlike RFID, bar codes work within a line of sight range between printed code and readers. However, it’s a very cheap technology and easily adopted by industry to speed up processes.


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