Monthly Archives: May 2012

Barcodes: For When Error Is Not an Option

The Department of Health and the NHS Commissioning Board have announced that by 2014 they will be actively working to promote the use of ‘barcode medication administration’ in care homes. This may appear to be over complicating a simple matter but when absent mindedness could cost lives it is a small price worth paying. What is more, barcode technology is relatively a cheap system to introduce for the results it can provide.

No matter how well trained staff are human error is inevitable, and while a machine can never replace the knowledge and rationality of a human, barcode technology acts as a safety net against fatal errors. Also from a purely administrative point of view it can allow for far more cost efficient service, when you know exactly where everything in your company is overheads can come tumbling down.

Using our ready to use BardecodeFiler application you could ensure that every document in your business is properly filed for when you need it. Check out our website or drop us an email for more information.


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Softek Cycling Project

Those who follow us on twitter may be aware here as Softek we are a cycling mad bunch. Whether its a sneaky office bike ride on a quiet day or turning on the Giro d’Italia finish on an afternoon in the office, we love it. Therefore when the opportunity has come along to sponsor the kit of a small cycling team starting up in Edinburgh we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. Although starting right at the bottom we look forward to seeing what they can achieve, and we’ll share the kit and results on here as they arrive!

So although we may not be about to hit the big time cycling world this is exciting stuff for Softek Software, keep an eye out for them on the roads and news on their progress here!

More info soon!


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The North Face Facing the Future

If you are a shopper of North Face stores in the US then you can now use their iphone app. This allows you to scan the barcode of products in store to receive real time information on sizing and colours in stock. This makes sense; rather than having to find a staff member and ask them to look, which is often inefficient, this instantly lets you know what is available. Early adoption by companies such as The North Face is a big leap of faith but the vast improvement it can offer customers in their shopping experience is likely to pay dividends. Shoppers, as humans, tend to take the path of least resistance so anything to make it easier is going to drive sales.

The only issue with this scheme is how specific it is. Firstly it only works North Face stores, perfect if that is where you always shop but if you are just popping in it will take longer to download the app and scan the barcode than simply asking the staff. This could be a big problem with adoption. Secondly it is only available for iPhone, with the widespread use of android this instantly wipes out a large portion of the smart phone market. (check out our mobile SDK though… it includes iphone AND android at no extra cost!)

Therefore long term maybe we will see retailers setting a standard for such a system, so that a single application may service an entire shopping centre or even every large retailer across a country.


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Know Your Food… Scan it!

In recent decades it appears there have been countless food scares, most memorable the ‘mad cow’ disease which obliterated British livestock farming for the best part of a decade. Although this has long recovered and a British steak is once again a fine thing to sit down and enjoy it has meant that tough lessons were learnt. It became obvious that for consumers to be able to make informed choices about what they were purchasing they had to have more knowledge.

The producers have to be accountable. What is more this works to protect the majority of producers. Those who are cutting less corners in production can show their better produce and satisfy consumers that they are keeping up standards. Now why am I harping on about agricultural standards in a barcode news blog? This is because barcodes fit the job perfectly here, as New Zealand has shown. If you purchase beef in New Zealand you can scan a barcode on it and learn everything about the animal it came from.

It is clearly not feasible to have an entire fact sheet printed on each piece of meat sold, therefore barcodes yet again make a huge leap forward economically viable where before it may have simply been a pipe dream. So if you ever find yourself in New Zealand treat yourself to a steak, scan the barcode, and enjoy it with the knowledge of where your food came from!


Want to know how to integrate barcode reading into your business? Check out our website!

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Gorilla Marketing

If you wander around any city, or especially a university campus, we now see QR Codes everywhere. From posters promoting grotty club nights to swanky car posters, everyone is involved. However I have noticed another trend, the posting of just a QR Code, no explanation given.

If you read this blog a few months a go you will be aware I lambasted the arrogance of marketing folk for assuming people will scan a QR Code simply because it’s there, with nothing offered in return. I stand by that comment and believe that a QR Code simply linking up to more marketing guff is pointless and will put people off using the technology, or the promoted product, again.

An exception to this though appears to be the solitary QR Code. They seem to be the only ones which get people stopping in the street, groups of people will wait as a friend scans the code; presumably out of curiosity for what it’s promoting. Admittedly it tends to be some social campaign or even just another route to a club night poster but still the success rate seems higher.

I still would not recommend such a tactic, it will surely only be a novelty so long, but does provide an insight into how users are interacting with the technology. Either provide mystery or provide incentive; failure to do either is where most people end up and will tempt few.

Has anyone else noticed this?


Want to know more about QR Codes? Check out our knowledge base.

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Providing More For Less

Scanning the Washington Post website earlier I found a story about a church in America who were engaging with modern media; common sense stuff. They had started streaming their services over the internet and provided a live web chat alongside it. However the innovations are not reserved for those unable to make it, if you attend the Christ Fellowship church in McKinney, Texas, then you can scan a QR Code on the way in to download the service programme.

Far from being a simply gimmick this makes a lot of sense, firstly it stops a large amount of waste. A single QR Code is far more economical than printing hundreds of programmes. It should also be remembered that although the Washington Post terms this as a ‘high tech’ church it is actually very simply to set up. QR Code generators are freely available and simply have to contain a URL. It is no harder for the smart phone user with plenty of free barcode readers available such as the Bardecoder for android. So the surprise maybe isn’t that a few churches are adopting such methods but that more are not! It is clear that many church goers will not own smart phones but the beauty of the system is its low set up costs (free!) and that it can happily sit alongside existing structures.

This suggestion though is not purely one aimed at the religous, history shows those who innovate thrive. So if you are interested in integrating barcode reading into your business in any capacity, from document organising to tracking parts,then check out our website for more information!


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Award Winning Software

Once again the Softek Barcode Reader has been named one of the top products by ComponentSource! The continued success of the Barcode Reader is testament to the high quality service it offers and the ability to keep evolving.

If you would like to try the SDK or our ready to use application for yourself then head over to our website where they can both be downloaded, and then simply get in touch for an evaluation license! With QR Codes now supported and improved Data Matrix reading, alongside many other features, there has never been a better time to give it a go!

If you are not sure how barcode reading can help your business then check out previous posts on this blog.


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