by Nate Schubert
In August, we talked a little bit about the 3 all-time greatest barcode innovations. These technological advances have revolutionized the way we approach retail point-of-sale checkout, transportation logistics, inventory and asset management, and most recently, marketing promotions. Identifying the top historical uses is certainly valuable, as it allows us to see what has worked in the past, and how barcode technology has actually shaped a number of these industries. We can also use this information to predict some advances in the realm of barcode technology that will likely come into focus within the next 10 years. Many of these functions may be in their infancy today, or may improve greatly over the coming years.
Increased Flexibility for Barcode Scanning in Business
Since the first barcode was scanned in 1974, the process has remained largely unchanged. The barcode scanner at a POS checkout point is designed to read the barcode on an item that is intended for sale, such as food products or tickets to special events. These barcodes are generally printed as part of a product box or bag or as tickets, although they may also be printed onto labels that are affixed to products for easy scanning. As more and more consumers house their coupons, event stubs or airline tickets on their smartphone displays, however, scanning locations are going to need to improve their ability to read barcodes from these devices. 2D Barcode Imagers
will most certainly be a requirement because of their ability to easily read barcodes from smartphones
and LCD screens.
Barcodes on People?
Since barcodes were first created, conspiracy theorists, futurists and other thinkers have considered a future where every individual is marked with a barcode
that is encoded with identifying information, account numbers, arrest records, or any other valuable piece of data. Some have even posed the notion that the mark of the beast will be a barcode. While this makes for a very interesting science fiction novel or film, the reality of the situation is that traditional barcodes may not be ideal for this task. Firstly, barcoded data is largely static, that is to say the data you encoded originally is the same data that the barcode will always contain. As such, the barcode would need to be 2D which allows access to a web address, where the content may certainly be kept up-to-date. 2D barcodes also have error correction which means tarnished barcode tattoos could potentially still be read. That said, RFID technology is likely better suited for alleged dark future of humanity because RFID chips may be implanted in a person, and then transmit their data to receivers who can use it to access important medical records, checking accounts and more.
Enhancing the Advertiser-Consumer Relationship with Barcodes
Over the past few years, marketing professionals from across the world have begun to leverage the power of QR Codes and other 2D barcodes in a couple of different, and really impressive ways. The first benefit that 2D barcodes can provide in marketing promotions is by making advertising campaigns interactive. Today, a person can scan a QR code on the inside of a wrapper, for example, to automatically register a product or for a contest. This is an extremely powerful tool for marketers focused on giving consumers what they want with little to no effort at all. Secondly, the use of QR Codes in marketing campaigns
allows a means to track the success of the campaign itself. As a result, promotions can be tweaked and modified for greater future effectiveness in giving the consumer what they want.
Of course, the possibilities that surround barcode technology for the future are virtually limitless. The idea behind barcodes and protected information has been in existence since ancient times, however, and so it is likely that the long-term future is that barcodes will evolve into something more powerful or easier to use.