To understand what information is stored on a barcode, you must first know what a barcode is and how barcodes work. A barcode is an encoded image, usually displayed with black and white lines of varying width that contains vital information easily readable by a machine.
Barcodes store information using symbols that can vary from lines to dots, such as in the matrix barcoding. There are many types of barcodes, such as one dimensional and two-dimensional barcodes, that determine the exact type of data that can be encoded unto it.
When the machine fails to read a barcode, the person can enter the barcode number and get the information required; this is seen frequently in supermarkets and stores.
Also, knowing what information is stored on a specific barcode will depend on what type of object that barcode is printed on. A barcode found on a grocery item will contain different data than a barcode on your driver license for example.
Food barcode information typically houses a short product description that gets referenced to set pricing in many automated checkout systems. Most products that you come in contact with on a day to day basis will have encoded information that allows for the store’s checkout system to quickly and easily find and register the product being bought, current price, modify quantity on the database and apply for any existing sales or promotions.
One dimensional barcode also referred to as linear barcodes, can only store information horizontally from left to right. They are the simplest types of codes that can be read by any barcode scanner rapidly.
The drawback is the limited amount of space available in 1D barcodes, which downsizes how much information a barcode can hold.
Linear barcodes can hold anywhere between 8-25 characters, but the more information that is stored the bigger the barcode gets. Imagine the size of a linear barcode if a person wishes to store even a paragraph worth of characters!
It is for this sole reason that many businesses settle within a range of 8-15 characters, which keeps the barcode at a respectable and printable size.
This set of 8-25 characters can be used to store product descriptions, customer or item identification, pricing, tracking information, and more. Essentially, any type of data can be stored in a 1D barcode, excluding special characters. Remember that a single letter counts as one character and it is why many industries prefer the more modern 2D barcodes for data storage.
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Two-dimensional barcodes are more complex than their counterparts, permitting users to accumulate anywhere between 1-2,000 characters of encoded data. 2D barcodes encrypt data horizontally and vertically, which allows for more versatile use.
In order to read these types of barcodes, however, no ordinary barcode reader can be used. It requires the use of an image scanner.
A great advantage to using 2D barcodes is the ability to use any keyboard character, including the ones that fall under a special category, giving the user an endless manner of referencing and cross-referencing encoded data.
Similar to the 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes have the same uses and more. Inventory tracking, sale registry, supply chain management, mobile marketing, and logistics are just a few other uses that can be given to these types of barcodes.
An added perk to 2D barcodes is the possibility of encoding images or links unto a barcode that can be uploaded or accessed via an image scanner, such as a smartphone’s camera.
If you are determined in investigating the exact information that a particular barcode has stored, then you will need to do a bit of work.
The first step is finding out what type of barcode you are dealing with. Afterward, you can look for downloadable software or online websites that can decode (or read) that type of barcode. Once you have the software or converter set up, you will be able to find the encoded information.
An online search will result in thousands of possible locations to decode your barcode. It is wise to choose a safe and reliable source if you are going to upload sensitive data or download software to your electronic device.
Many modern-day barcodes can actually be read by your smartphone’s camera so checking to see if your phone is compatible with barcode reading technology can be a simple and easy way to decode any given barcode.
Another way of decoding the barcode in question is buying an actual barcode or image scanner. This is only recommended if you will be reading numerous barcodes for a period of time because it can be costly in the long run. One dimensional barcode readers tend to be cheaper than 2D barcode scanners.
The data that is found can be further encoded according to the owner or business’s discretion. For example, it may only be a list of numbers or letters that mean nothing to you but can be easily understood by the system that created it.
Therefore, it is a good idea to have a general understanding of how a barcode works and the types of barcodes that exist in order to further decipher the information.
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