Getting the Best Price with Barcodes

Today news has broken in Britain that across the NHS different hospitals are paying vastly different amounts for the same products. In some areas a box of blankets is costing £48, whereas in other areas the same box is costing the NHS in excess of £100. With cutting costs the key political issue of the moment this is a difficult position to be in, clearly the taxpayer is not getting value for money here. On the up side it shows that in some areas the NHS are driving for a good price, but there must be a solution to ensure that the entire organisation can share in such success and make the most of volume discounts.

The solution that the Department of Health says it is developing is a system of barcoding to help hospitals negotiate a better price. This is akin to the way supermarkets operate, scanning the barcode of products which are out of stock and automatically sending information back to a central location. This seems all very well for large organisations like the NHS or supermarkets, but this is applicable to most businesses. Barcode reading is cheap and very scalable. Furthermore with the advent of smartphone barcode reading there is little in way of hardware or training costs.

If you are interested in integrating barcode reading into your company’s app then check out our website.

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Barcodes: Pillars of Art

The challenge of public art is often in conveying complicated messages and views through very simple mediums. A statue or mural are the popular forms chosen, however these certainly have their limitations. Conceptional artists Claudia Reisenberger and Franka Diehnelt, of California, have utilised barcodes to show over 200 hundred years of history at the the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening  Project Site (basically a building site).

barcode reader art

Barcodes in Art

Each pillar of the viaduct has been transformed into a red and white barcode which contains some historical information. I’m not sure how practical these barcodes will be to read but it is certainly a striking look.

If you want to investigate barcode reading as part of your mobile application then check out our website.

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Mason City: New Barcode Pathology System

There are many industries where failure and mistakes are simply not an option. While care for the living is an obvious one it is also the case in post-mortem care; no family will tolerate a mistake when it comes to the care of a loved one. Therefore it is no surprise that the Mercy medical Centre in North Iowa have turned to barcodes in order to ensure that the correct information is stored for the correct bodies. The new system also allows staff to track progress whether it is at another facility or in storage. The ease with which barcodes can attach the physical with the digital is something that makes it so versatile.

So how does this apply to business in general? The lesson is that no business should be accepting mistakes due to inadequate systems. Although it may not lead to such an awkward situation as dealing with the body of a loved one, when the solution is as simple and cost effective as barcode reading software it is simple. Whether it is used to improve efficiency or simply act as a double check for human error it is clear that many organisations could benefit from its inclusion. If you look at any of the most complicated industries barcodes are at the heart of them; retail, logistics and now health.

If you want to see how barcode reading can help your company check out our website for our ready-to-use barcode filing  application and software development kit.

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Barcode Tattoos: worse than you imagined?

When people hear I work with barcodes it is not uncommon to then be told about someone they know with a barcode tattoo. Popular as an ironic anti-establishment statement along the lines of… ‘I’m not just a number, but to prove it, here is a tattoo which reduces me to such’. You may be able to gather that I don’t really understand it, but each to their own. However, from looking at barcodes printed by computers which are often of poor quality and produce an unreliable read I have started wondering how this works in the unreliable world of body art. Ink does not simply go where you put it but soaks in and smudges slightly, especially if you chose the cheapest tattoo artist in town.

Barcodes are only as reliable as they can be printed. The classic rule of computing still applies, garbage in, garbage out. For more information on how resolution can effect barcode scanning see our knowledge base. So not only is the idea of a barcode tattoo fairly rubbish, but the practicality is only going to produce something unreadable.

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Meriden Linear Trail using QR Codes for Tourists

The Meriden trail has decided to start using QR Codes placed along the trail in order to provide information about the surroundings. The neat little QR Codes can provide easy to update platforms which don’t impinge on their surroundings as much as a large information board. The route which follows the original route of the Meriden, Waterbury, and Connecticut river railroad through Meriden is popular with both cyclists and walkers, helping attract tourists to the area.

Providing a more complete experience for tourists at such low cost will clearly benefit everyone, and is something that other low density tourist attractions should consider. Where numbers may be low and the investment money lacking such a  cheap solution is an ideal place to start with increasing the experience. More importantly it is sustainable, large information boards are costly and time consuming to change, webpages are dynamic and free to update.

But what about scanning these barcodes? Try our free to use android app or barcode reading software development kits.

Meriden Linear Trail

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Deck the halls with QR Codes? A Cautionary Tale.

By all accounts it is too early for this post. The mentioned of the ‘C’ word should be taboo, but the season of Christmas marketing is almost upon us. Marketing departments are starting to finalise their campaigns and try to find something different.

We will undoubtedly see many QR Codes as they try to capture the growing mobile markets. With the number of smartphones now used it is clear that they are a key part of how consumers interact with companies. Those companies who wish to spurn this development will be missing out on a large slice of the market.

However, despite reading many articles predicting a landslide of QR Code campaigns I think caution should be exercised. As I have mentioned many times in this blog you cannot force people to take the 20 seconds or so to scan a QR Code, you must offer them a reward! A shiny commercial for your product does not count, make it something worthwhile; a discount or some content of real value. What is more let them know what they will get before they scan, otherwise your QR Code may be lost alongside the thousands of others.

If you want to get your phone ready for QR Codes then check out our free barcode scanner app in the google play store or our Software Development Kits.

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Record Breaking Barcode

AC Labels, of Derby (UK), have set the world record for the longest linear barcode. The event was organised yo celebrate the 60th anniversary of the patenting of the barcode by the firm which specialises in barcode labels. So what does the barcode say if you scan it? “HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY BARCODE!” of course.

The barcode is 40m long, but is there anything capable of reading it? I was keen to give the picture a go in our SDK but sadly we only get part of the barcode here so we may never know. If anyone has a full size picture send it over and we will give it a go. Alternatively you can test our SDK, or ready-to-use application, yourself by downloading it from our website.

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Instant Quote for Used Phone…Enabled by QR Codes

Everyone has seen adverts for these companies, the model obviously proves profitable. Old smartphones can be traded in, for money, to be recycled. These companies make money, the consumer makes money and the phones do not end up straight in the landfill. However the process is not flawless, the companies like to view the phones before they pay money for them and consumers are easily put off by such obstacles. This means that only around 10% ever get recycled in such a manner.

So what is the solution? QR Codes of course. American company MaxBack has released a QR Code which, when scanned, assesses the phone and makes an instant offer. This clever use of the QR Code works in several ways. Firstly its entire target audience has smartphones so can scan the device, secondly it is self selecting. If someone has a smartphone which is so run down it will no longer scan a QR Code then it cannot get the offer. Finally it means that when someone sends their phone off they can do so with a good awareness of what they will receive in return.

So don’t get bogged down in the numerous terrible uses of QR Codes, embrace those who do the technology justice! For more information on our Mobile Barcode Reading SDK check out our website.

Jack

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There’s Something Fishy about this Barcode

The Frieze Art Fair in London is one of the biggest of its kind, with tickets starting at £20 it is certainly not cheap. However it is full of innovative new ideas and, this year at least, a novel approach to QR Codes.

We have seen QR Codes in many different guises, from corn mazes to office roofs there seems no limit to what they will be used for. This story is no different, albeit it a bit tastier. The sushi restaurant ‘Moshi Moshi’ has been inviting visitors to the art fair to try their sushi, but first to scan their food! The sushi itself is a QR Code which, when scanned, takes them to a website about the sustainability of the fish they are eating.

This trial is being held at the festival with a view to rolling it out to more of their restaurants, so you too could scan your food before you eat it. This is indeed another gimmicky use of the QR Code. However it is raising awareness about a very important message and reminding us that our food has its own back-story to tell is more relevant than ever.

If you are interesting in using QR Codes, or any type of barcode, in your business then check out our website for barcode reading solutions.

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Barcodes Reach 60!

60 years ago, on sunday 7th October, the barcode patent was filed in the USA. It only took another 22 years for the required readers to appear and for them to appear in the first shops in 1974 but since then the world has not looked back. The fact that the barcode was invented decades before an effective method for reading them was developed is testament to how simple the barcodes themselves are, simply lines of ink.

The BBC have written a very interesting piece about barcodes on their 60th birthday, exploring the standard debate surround QR Codes vs. Traditional 1D barcodes, worth a read but I will try not to regurgitate.

The major point I think it is worth making on the 60th birthday of the Barcode is that they show no sign of disappearing. The task they perform in linking physical objects to a digital database is more relevant than ever, and there is nothing which can compete in terms of cost-effectiveness. So do I think that we will be celebrating 100 years of barcodes in the year 2052? Yes. I am sure that Near Field Communication will develop and the price will come down but the simplicity of barcodes is going to keep them central to the indsutrialised world. Especially as more countries become industrialised and there is a greater competition for resources the simply solutions will surely stand the test.

What are you opinions on the future hopes of barcodes?

If you are interested in exploring what barcodes can do for your business then check out our website, with Software Development Kits and a ready-to-use application there is something to suit anyone.

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