Back in 2009 the BBC ran an article which boasted to show off the replacement for barcodes; the Bokode. With the potential to hold much more information than the tradition striped barcode, and apparently able to be read at awkward angles, it would seem to have much potential. Despite this until I stumbled across this article I had forgotten all about them, so why are companies not falling over themselves to start using them?
Firstly cost must be an issue, back in 2009the BBC reported the tags costing £3 ($5) each! Although this must be seen in the context of set-up costs and the lack of ‘economy-of-scale’ which hampers any new project it is non-viable in most products where it may even end up costing more than the object itself. There is hope that this may change though as the early versions required their own LED light source but new prototypes are using reflective power. This must surely be seen as the first stumbling block to making it widely accessible, the Bokode may be viable in a huge car factory where the units are worth tens of thousands of pounds but even there are the benefits worth £3 a unit?
This leads in to the second reason why Bokodes have not exploded onto the scene, the genius in barcodes is the simplicity. They are as cheap to create as any label, simply using normal ink, and can often even still be read at surprisingly low qualities. Furthermore the size they take up on a product is not always detrimental since if no one can see the barcode then no one will be able to use it, although this only works in the context of barcodes for media purposes as seen with the rapid growth in QR codes. QR codes work since they are now iconic, and everyone with a smart phone is aware they can scan them.
Having said that though 10 years ago I would have had no idea I could scan a QR code with my phone (or what such a bar code was) so maybe in a few years, when Bokodes are cheaper to produce, the inventive marketing people will find a way to make it as much part of our life as the standard barcodes are today. Anyway, I look forward to seeing how this progresses!
I’d be interest to hear any thoughts,