Data Matrix: History, Advantages, Limitations, Usage - ByteScout
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Data Matrix: History, Advantages, Limitations, Usage

Data Matrix is a type of 2-D barcode with very high data density and can encode a large amount of data. Data Matrix consists of a random sequence of black and white pairs. Data matrix code type can encode the text, as well as raw data. The range of the data encoded by the Data matrix usually lies between a few bytes up to 2 kilobytes. With this data storage space, approximately 2,335 alphanumeric characters can be encoded by a data matrix symbol. Data Matrix coding standard is widely used in Europe and the United States for information encoding.

  1. History
  2. Structure
  3. Purpose
  4. Advantages
  5. Limitations
  6. Usage

RPA in Electrical Engineering

History

ID Matrix is credited as being the inventor of the Data Matrix barcode around 2005. ID Matrix, later on, merged into RVSI Acuity ciMatrix, Siemens Energy, and automation acquired RVSI Acuity ciMatrix in October 2005 and then by Microscan Systems in September 2008.

Data Matrix codes are regulated today by several ISO/IEC standards. It is in the public domain for many applications, which means it can be used free of any licensing or royalties.

Structure

Data Matrix is a two-dimensional symbology hence appears in two basic shapes. Either a square between the sizes of 10×10 up to 144×144 modules in even steps or a rectangle between the size of 8×16 up to 16×48.

The size and shape of the symbol are usually chosen either automatically or by the user. Often, the smallest size is preferred, so there is enough data to encode the given data. The symbol rectangle is built up by square dots whose size module is also user-specified. A Data Matrix can even be small enough to fit on a pinhead!

The symbol is mounted on a square grid, that has a finder pattern encompassing the edges of the symbol to allow a scanner to identify the barcode. The finder pattern makes it possible to read the barcode regardless of the physical orientation of the code.

Purpose

Like other 2-D barcodes, the basic purpose of developing the Data Matrix code type was to design a barcode that is denser and can accommodate a large amount of data, which is extremely secure with built-in error correction and higher fault tolerance mechanism. All of these objectives have been met by the Data Matrix bar code and incorporated into the design.

The most widespread use for Data Matrix is labeling small items, due to the code’s ability to encode fifty characters in a graphic symbol at 2 or 3 millimeters. Additionally, the code can be read with an estimated 20% contrast ratio. It is no wonder that Data Matrix codes are often used in the food industry in autoencoding systems to prevent food products from being packaged and dated incorrectly.

These unique codes are managed internally on a food manufacturer’s database and used for each subsequent product run. The symbol should be in an optimal scanning position. Other industries that use Data Matrix include the manufacturing of pharmaceutical items, electronics, and medical devices.

Advantages

  • Similar to contemporary 2-D codes, Data Matrix can store a large amount of data with minimum space utilization,
  • It has a built-in error correction mechanism. It uses the ECC200 error correction code for error correction purposes.
  • Extremely high fault tolerance and can be decoded even if a substantial amount of code is damaged.
  • It has a lower resolution, which is adequate for the scan readability in any position, unlike barcodes that require high resolutions of at least 80%.

Limitations

There is only one major limitation of Data Matrix barcodes. Users have to have a laser scanner or CCD cameras in order to correctly scan and encode information stored in these barcodes, it cannot be scanned by a simple scanner. Factors affecting data matrix imagers can also cause limitations. Imagers regularly require that the barcode is close to the lens. Generally, distance considerations should be in the 2-12″ range. However, exceptional lensing can increase this range. Some linear barcode scanners can accurately decode at intervals up to 120″.

Due to a large amount of processed information, data matrix imagers cannot decode at the same rates as linear barcode scanners. Also, while most imagers contain internal light sources to illuminate the barcode, they may function at subpar levels because of shallow contrast, specular reflection, or causes for image blur.

Usage

The most widespread use for Data Matrix is labeling small items, due to the code’s ability to encode fifty characters in a graphic symbol at 2 or 3 millimeters. Additionally, the code can be read with only a 20% contrast ratio. It is no wonder that Data Matrix codes are often used in the food industry in autoencoding systems to prevent food products from being packaged and dated incorrectly.

These unique codes are managed internally on a food manufacturer’s database and used for each subsequent product run. The symbol should be in an optimal scanning position. Other facts about data matrix usage include the following:

  • Data matrix code is widely used in the automotive part making industry as well as for laser marketing.
  • In the aerospace equipment manufacturing industry, data matrix code is widely used on airplane parts. Air Transport Association (ATA) recommends the use of the Data Matrix barcode to its members.
  • Data Matrix is used on digital postage stamps recognized by Deutsche Postal Service.
  • Mobile marketing has also adopted Data Matrix code and it is known as SemaCode in mobile applications.
  • EIA (Electronics Institute of America), highly recommends the use of Data Matrix code in order to label small to medium-sized electronics equipment.
  • Data Matrix code is inscribed on medical and surgical equipment.
  • Data Matrix codes are also the manufacturing of pharmaceutical items.

Conclusion

Data Matrix codes are considered the smallest and most compact of all the bar code types. If you want to store a large amount of data in a barcode, Data Matrix is the most recommended barcode type. It can be easily generated with Bytescout BarCode SDK and read with BarCode Reader SDK.

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