When one thinks of the phrase “barcode scanner,” the first thing that comes to mind is usually the check-out counter at the supermarket. And that’s a fine example of the usefulness of barcodes and the machines that read them: Without them, buying groceries would take ages, and supermarkets would often run out of needed items thanks to disorganized inventory control. But barcode scanners are becoming staples of more industries and organizations every day — in ways you might not even have considered.
Barcodes are a relatively humble technology: A series of lines and spaces, representing a numerical code (or, in the case of newer 2D barcodes, squares comprised of dots that hold even more information about a product), which corresponds to a product in a database. They’ve been in common use since the 1970s, which is not something one can say about many other technological advances since that era. And though traditional, 1D barcodes are likely on the way out in the favor of either 2D codes or Digimarc Barcodes (where the UPC/EAN is imperceptibly overlaid over the surface of the entire product), use of the basic technology is more prominent than ever.
Here are six industries where barcodes have altered the way people do business, communicate and organize their inventory and fixed assets.
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