A Barcode is an optical machine readable representation of data or information about the object which it is attached to. It consists of two elements: Data Content, namely the information being transmitted, and the Data Carrier, namely the symbology used to carry the information. The symbology (data encodation) consists of both patterns (lines, dots, squares, etc.) and space.
There are two types of barcodes: linear or 1-dimensional (1D) barcodes which represent data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines; and two-dimensional (2D) barcodes which represent data in patterns of squares, dots, hexagons, and other geometric figures within an image.
Linear barcodes are designed to have omnidirectional capability or not. This means that a barcode can be read only by a bi-directional scanner or by both an omnidirectional and bi-directional scanner. For example, an EAN/UPC barcode is omnidirectional while an ITF-14 barcode is not omnidirectionally. An onmidirectional scanner emits pattern of beams in varying orientations allowing them to read barcodes presented to it at different angles while a non omnidirectional scanner emits a single laser beam.
The use of barcodes was not commercially successful until they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems. The very first scanning in a supermarket was on a pack of Wrigley Company chewing gum at Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, Ohio on June 26, 1974. The pack was marked with a Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode. Since this very first scanning of the Universal Product Code (UPC) Barcode back, the use of Barcodes has spread to many other tasks that are generically referred to as Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC).
These little black and white images are a very common occurrence today and are seen almost everywhere. One of the most commonly used barcode is the EAN-UPC barcode, which is widely used in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector.
Barcodes deliver incredible value in many different environments – such as retail, hospital (healthcare), manufacturing, and transport.