The Objective : Make inert objects come alive
The Solution :
2D Bar Codes : One of the oldest means of capturing information about a product is the 2D Bar Code. Two-dimensional barcodes were first introduced to the market by Intermec Corporation in 1988. They comprise of a series of vertical lines because they only have the capacity to hold information horizontally. In this type of barcode, the encoded information is determined by the thickness of and the distance between the lines. Sometimes, you may find the numeric equivalent of the barcode mentioned under it. This type of barcode is mainly found on products, airline tickets, consignment notes, etc. It is simple to create – there are many programs which can generate a barcode automatically. The BarCodes can be scanned by a Hand-held scanner or a fixed position scanner. Once the item is scanned, the 12-digit code is captured, you can use it for identification of the product for billing, stocktaking, movement of the goods, etc. These are also called UPC bar codes.
“UPC” stands for Universal Product Code. UPC bar codes were created to help retailers speed up the billing process in retail stores and keep better track of inventory, mainly because they are fast and accurate. UPCs started with a company called the Uniform Code Council(UCC). A manufacturer applies to the UCC for permission to enter the UPC system. The UCC issues the manufacturer a six-digit manufacturer identification number and provides guidelines on how to use it. You can see the manufacturer identification number in any standard 12-digit UPC code. The UPC symbol has two parts:
The machine-readable bar code
The human-readable 12-digit UPC number
The manufacturer identification number is the first six digits of the UPC number — 639382 in the image alongside. The next five digits — 00039 — are the item number. Every item the manufacturer makes, as well as every size package and every repackaging of the item, needs a different item code. The last digit of the UPC code (3) is called a check digit. This digit lets the scanner determine if it scanned the number correctly or not.
The major limitation of the 2D Barcodes is that they could only capture a 12 digit number, and had to be printed on labels which would then be stuck onto the products they represented.
3D Bar Codes – QR Codes
3D barcodes use the same basic principle as linear and 2D barcodes. An image of some sort is applied to a product and then read by a device to log, categorize, inventory, or track an individual product. The 3D barcode is engraved or applied to the product itself as a part of the manufacturing process.
The most common type of 3D barcode is called a QR (Quick Response) code. QR codes are square images consisting of black modules on a white background. These codes can store hundreds of times more information than traditional 2D barcodes. QR codes were designed in 1994 by a company called Denso-Wave which is a subsidiary of Toyota. They were originally used in Japan to track vehicle parts during the manufacturing process but are beginning to become more popular in other areas such as marketing. QR codes can connect users to many different types of data such as webpages, images, YouTube Video links, contact information, SMS text messages, and more. QR codes can be read by simply scanning them with a QR code reader app downloaded on any smartphone. My favourite is AT&T Code Scanner. But you may choose from many other free QR Code scanners for your Windows Phone, iPhone or Android devices.
e.g. This QR image was created instantly on http://qrcode.kaywa.com. If you scan it with a QR code reader app, it will take you to the Parsi Times website. It is as simple as that.
In the Courier industry, they use a 2D Barcode to identify the Consignment No. and then a QR code, which would also contain the Sender’s name and address, the Recipient’s name and address, the Originating and Destination cities, the contents of the consignment, and also the date of despatch and the mode of transportation.
Some people may like to put their name and address in a QR code and print it on their visiting cards. The recipient just has to scan and import the QR Code and it will be automatically added to his Phone Directory ! Try and scan the QR code alongside for my own personal visiting card.
A casual glance will tell you, that the more information you put in, the more complex will be the pattern on the QR code – but who cares, as long as you can accurately unravel the same, effortlessly !
Below are some great ideas for using QR code stickers to market a business or make it more convenient to access a product or service :
On direct mailing pieces including postcards, handouts, and flyers.
At bus stops and include information such as routes, prices, and schedules
On labels next to art displays with further information on the artist or piece being exhibited.
On real estate listings to provide potential buyers with further information on the properties for sale – location, price, amenities, etc.
On packaged goods, the QR labels can provide valuable product information, tips, guides, and even recipes.
As labels on environmentally friendly products to make potential customers aware of their environmental as well as health benefits.
Restaurants can use QR code stickers to direct customers to contact information or online menus and ordering forms.
Place a QR code sticker on a wedding or event invitation so guests can easily scan the code to RSVP as this will help save postage and paper.
Place a QR code sticker on your laptop containing your vCard information so other users can connect with you online.
Whew – you can invent your own use and enjoy its benefits !
And then there are 4D Bar Codes, Alive! apps, Credit Card readers, Near Field Communications (NFC) and more. But we shall leave those for another day !