As the barcode turns 50, it’s hard to imagine a world without those familiar vertical lines adorning every item in the supermarket.
The barcode registration revolutionized retail, enabling speedy and efficient checkout processes and facilitating the globalisation of commerce.
Today, the trademark beep of a product being scanned is heard six billion times a day worldwide, as consumers purchase around 70,000 items per second.
But can this decades-old technology compete with the younger, information-filled QR code?
Let’s understand the story of barcodes and the current scenario of barcodes vs QR Codes.
The History and Management of Barcodes
Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver initially got Patent Registration for barcodes in the United States in 1952.
However, US engineer George Laurer made the barcode technology perfect nearly two decades later in 1971.
Afterwards, its commercialization began.
On April 3, 1973, a number of large retailers and food companies agreed upon the standard to identify products, which later became known as EAN-13.
It stands for European Article Number, and the number of digits in the barcode.
Learn more about it at: Barcode Registration in India: Definition, Types, Process
In the US state of Ohio on June 26 of the following year, the first product that was scanned was a pack of chewing gum.
It is now in the National Museum of American History in Washington.
Today, the barcode system is managed by the non-governmental organisation Global Standard 1, which has about two million firms as members.
It provides companies with a unique “global trade item number” for each product and translates it into a barcode.
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The Future of Barcodes vs QR Codes
Renaud de Barbuat, the head of GS1 Global, and Didier Veloso, the head of GS1 France announced that the humble barcode will soon be replaced by a new standard based on Quick Response codes (QR) by around 2027.
The inspiration for the QR code’s Japanese creator, Masahiro Hara, was the Chinese game Go with its white and black pieces on a square board.
Developed in 1994, QR codes can hold much more information than barcodes as they can be read both horizontally and vertically.
The QR code can integrate information directly into a product.
It includes composition and recycling instructions.
Thus, eliminating the need to search a database for information.
GS1 believes that adopting the QR code format will allow the sharing of much more information about products and content.
Consequently, enabling new uses accessible to both consumers and retailers.
As smartphones can read QR codes, they have been widely adopted by companies, artists, museums, and even payment systems as an easy way to send people to websites for additional information.
As the world progressively adopts QR codes, barcodes are expected to persist for several more years.
This suggests that barcodes vs QR Codes, the barcodes may not become obsolete anytime soon, despite turning 50 years old.
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