New Ways in which Bar Codes are Used

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Product Bar codes were originally invented in 1974 for use only in retail stores in order to streamline their point of sale systems and stock inventory, which can be read about on Encyclopedia but today they are being used in many different ways, as well as many different formats have been created for various uses. Let us look at a few.

Bar codes are used in the tracking of illegal actions, such as logging. We may not realise what a serious problem this has become and how authorities are having to keep a very close eye on it, and they are now using them to assist in this regard in the tropical forests.

All trees that are cut down legally are tagged with bar codes that have been printed on a plastic tag which is then nailed into the tree and these codes are scanned once the tree is cut down and the information gets uploaded into a special database, this enables the tree to be tracked throughout the supply chain journey. Therefore, if anyone is caught travelling with untagged logs, they will be prosecuted as the trees were cut down illegally.

This will not stop the problem completely, but it sure adds a deterrent to the people that are doing this, as it has made it much easier for them to be caught, especially when trying to transport across the borders. Anything that involves stopping illegal logging and poaching we are all in support of, so learning about this made us happy. 


Another way in which they are being used for good today is with recycling. Many of us have got into the habit of recycling our goods, but have you ever been confused as to which items can be recycled and which cannot?

When the recycling arrives at most recycling depots there are machines that the items are fed through to sort and the machines were also unable to decipher between non-recyclable and recyclable materials at times, this is where bar codes called an invisible bar code comes into play. They enable machines to decipher between the different materials, it also enables plastic containers that were used for food to be separated from others as food companies are only able to use recycled plastic that was previously used for food and not for other goods such as conditioner, soap etc.

This is not the only way that they are used in recycling, the other way is through an app that was created so that you will be able to scan product bar codes and the app will tell you if the item is able to be recycled or not. This app is currently being used in France, The United Kingdom and North America, but we hope that it will reach the rest of the world shortly. This app also rewards its users, a great incentive to try and get everyone on board with recycling. The rewards come in the form of discount vouchers.

Thirdly, one close to all our hearts, our pets. Having your pet microchipped is important as if lost your pet can be handed in at any vet and they will be able to scan the microchip bar codes to obtain your information to reunite you with your furry friend.

A microchip is placed under the skin of an animal and is about 11mm long. We urge everyone to have their dogs and cats microchipped, as this will decrease the amount of unclaimed lost pets greatly. If you would prefer to have a tag for their collar embedded with a QR code that all your details can be loaded onto and can also be scanned using a smartphone. Lets all take closer care of our pets by ensuring we never lose them unnecessarily. 

And last but not least they are being introduced into artwork. Modern artists have created ways to use different formats of in order to bring uniqueness into their work. They have also been known to be used in graffiti but not as much as abstract art or paintings.

Some designers such as interior designers even go as far as placing the linear EAN format on the inside walls of houses such as in the lounge as per the image below. This may not be for everyone’s taste but we sure can say it is unique.

You may have heard of the very famous artist by the name of Scott Blake who has created many art pieces using bar codes. He advised that he began doing this as he was inspired by the Y2K when the digital apocalypse was threatened.

He is most famous for his portraits of famous people which are made up of hundreds of miniscule bar codes. Some can even be scanned and will direct you through to websites relating to the famous person.

Museums have also begun using them in their displays. As some museums are visited by many people at one time such as with school groups, sometimes there is not enough time for all the information to be provided verbally. Having these placed at each art or history piece allows the viewer to scan and be directed to in depth information which they can bookmark on their phone to read at a later stage. This is also useful when scholars are required to complete an assignment after the field trip.

A lot of research can be done on modern and unique ways in which product bar codes are used today, we hope that you enjoy researching as much as we do at  www.buybarcodessouthafrica.co.za. We are always looking out for motivating ways in which they have been incorporated into today’s life, and we look forward to passing the information onto our customers. They are not just a retail element they are able to be used in all sectors.

Staff writer