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Posted by on Nov 1, 2015 in Tell Me Why |

What Is Barcode and How Does It Work?

What Is Barcode and How Does It Work?

A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data relating to the object to which it is attached. Originally barcodes systematically represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional.

Later they evolved into rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in two dimensions. Although two dimension systems use a variety of symbols, they are generally referred to as barcodes as well.

Barcodes originally were scanned by special optical scanners called barcode readers. Later, scanners and interpretive software became available on devices including desktop printers and smartphones.

Barcodes became commercially successful when they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task for which they have become almost universal. Their use has spread to many other tasks that are generically referred to as automatic identification and data capture.

The very first scanning of the now ubiquitous Universal Product Code barcode was on a pack of Wrigley Company chewing gum in June 1974. They are widely used in the healthcare and hospital settings, ranging from patient identification (to access patient data, including medical history, drug allergies, etc.) to creating SOAP Notes with barcodes to medication management.

They are also used to facilitate the separation and indexing of documents that have been imaged in batch scanning applications, track the organization of species in biology, and integrate with in-motion checkweighers to identify the item being weighed in a conveyor line for data collection.

They can also be used to keep track of objects and people; they are used to keep track of rental cars, airline luggage, nuclear waste, registered mail, express mail and parcels. Bar-coded tickets allow the holder to enter sports arenas, cinemas, theatres, fairgrounds, and transportation, and are used to record the arrival and departure of vehicles from rental facilities etc.

This can allow proprietors to identify duplicate or fraudulent tickets more easily. Barcodes are widely used in shop floor control applications software where employees can scan work orders and track the time spent on a job.

In the 21st century, many artists have started using barcodes in art, such as Scott Blake’s Barcode Jesus, as part of the post-modernism movement. Meanwhile, the technology has been creeping into other industries and organizations.

Researchers have mounted tiny bar codes on bees to track the insects’ mating habits. The U.S. Army has used two-foot-long bar codes to label fifty-foot boats in storage at West Point. Hospital patients wear barcode ID bracelets.

The codes appear on truck parts, business documents, shipping cartons, marathon runners, and even logs in lumberyards. Federal Express, the package-shipping giant, is probably the world’s biggest single user of the technology; its shipping labels bear a code called Codabar.

Content for this question contributed by Artie Cummiskey, resident of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA