Tag Archives: softek

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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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.


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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 for Small Businesses

In charities and small businesses there is no room for waste, even small changes can sometimes be big decisions due to the resultant effect on already tight cash flows. However if you want to keep an organisation running smoothly and efficiently, investments must be made.

The Watford Observer has reported that the county council has awarded £750 to the Rickmansworth Toy Library to allow them to implement a barcode lending system. Many people working in business will be reluctant to take lessons from a local toy library, however it is something worth paying attention to. An efficient and automated system not only provides a check on human error but it also allows staff to concentrate on the less monotonous tasks which can really propel an organisation forward.

In small business there is always the option of a manual workaround, and often they do save money, but a long term view can help a small group of people have a big impact. For more information on what barcode reading could do for your business check out our ready-to-use barcode application.

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QR Codes Saving Money for Business

It has always been a big issue for buses, you want plenty of stops, you want to keep the travellers informed of arrival times but buses are unpredictable due to traffic. There are now electronic displays which can inform passengers of how long until the next bus but these are expensive when there are so many stops and often cannot be catered for outside of a city.

Therefore Leeds have opted for a QR Code based system, each bus stop has a QR Code which passengers can scan and then their smart phone turns into an arrivals board for that bus stop! This means that for the price of printing a sticker the city has been able to give up to date arrival times to everyone with a smart phone. Taking the unpredictability out of public transport which can make it so unappealing when you are trying to make it somewhere for a certain time.

QR Codes are perfect for allowing a business to use someone’s own personal device instead of investing in expensive equipment; furthermore consumers almost always prefer to use their own system which they are comfortable with. This idea is transferable for almost any business, whether you want to give information on directions around your office or access to online stock information.

If you need a QR Code reader then we offer one for FREE from the Android Market Place.

Also if you are looking to develop an application using a barcode reader then this month we are offering huge discounts on our mobile SDK… so head to our website!

I’d be very interested to hear your comments below.


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Backing Up: a game changer

In recent days I have suffered a fate that everyone fears, my hard drive died. One second the laptop was fine, 5 minutes later I go to turn it on somewhere else and ‘a disk read error’ is all that I see. So straight down to the local computer store, who did a great speedy job, and was told it was so bad they could recover nothing. Nothing!

Now this is where everyone you talk to becomes an expert, yes of course I backed up my work; but only the essentials. Luckily all my work for the company is backed up automatically so that is no problem. My music is saved on my phone, so again, no problem. The real annoyance is the photos and even more so all the random documents, all the bits which never seemed worth specifically bothering to back up but then you realise how useful they are.

So what is the moral of this story? Well as far as I was told by everyone across all social networks it was dropbox I needed (too embarrassed to admit I already had it but simply hadn’t bothered using it!). However I was frustrated by dropbox and the way it worked, so I went looking for something new. My flatmate then told me about something he’d seen in passing called Ubuntu One (yes it runs on Windows!). Ubuntu 1, much like dropbox, gives you free space to back up your documents and then access them anywhere. However with Ubuntu 1 you get, for free, 5gb rather than 2gb and you simply set it to sync with whichever folders on your computer you want. There are of course apps for iphone and android plus the ability to stream your music from the cloud straight to your phone. Even more impressive is the paid for service which at only $30 a year gives you 20gb plus the ability to listen offline to your music collection stored by ubuntu.

So basically I just wanted to share how impressed I was with Ubuntu 1 and its ability to make backing up effortless. However there must be other services like dropbox and Ubuntu out there, any others worth a look?


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QR Codes Now Supported on Windows SDK

We are very happy to announce that the Softek Barcode Reader SDK for Windows now supports QR Codes and our mobile SDK versions will not be far behind. After a lot of development and testing we think that it is a major enhancement but don’t take our word for it; try it yourself now!

But what if you already have our software? Don’t worry! Any of our customers who have active support and upgrade cover will soon receive an email with download instructions for the update. However if you can’t wait that long then simply send us an email atsupport@bardecode.com and we’ll get it to you straight away. For anyone currently unaware QR Codes head over to our blog for more information on what they are and how they are different to Data Matrix barcodes.

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Barcode Printing

Just in case you weren’t aware Barcode printing isn’t really our thing at Softek. However with the Barcode Reader Software we produce there is an obvious link with the quality of barcodes being produced. It never ceases to amaze me how poor the quality of printing and scanning or barcodes can be. Although the ability to still read such poor quality barcodes is even more astonishing. In this article though we are simply going to look at the printing.

One of the most obvious trade offs is between speed and quality (and most likely price of the printer too). When looking at the speed of printing it is worth considering the speed of reading in the equation too. A poorer quality barcode will take longer to read, as will a barcode at a peculiar angle.

Also whether a Barcode is printed directly onto something or stuck on as a sticker it should be remembered that for a more reliable read a ‘quiet zone’ around the barcode should be allowed for. If a barcode is placed within a tight fitting box for example it becomes much harder to decipher what line is the box and what line is the start of the barcode without giving extra instructions and thus taking extra time.

Although these are just some of the points to consider from the angle of barcode reading there are many other consideration to take into account. This though is not my area of expertise so I have compiled below a list of useful websites for barcode printing information.

Hope this helps, let me know what your best barcode printing tips are with any comments below!


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Banksy Barcode

Following on from yesterday’s post about barcode art it suddenly occurred to me I had not even mentioned this piece by Banksy.

Banksy's Barcode Art

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Barcode Art

A large amount of my day is taken looking at barcodes. Whether it be to try and work out why someone can’t get it to be read (“have you checked it actually is a barcode sir?”) or simply geeking up on something I have to say they do lose some excitement; if they ever had any.  Therefore I found it fascinating when I came across this website with 12 examples of Barcode art. To see the mundane bars of data which I encounter every day used so differently was refreshing. Although some of them used the similarity to a cage there were several of them simply showcasing the strange, and very subtle,  interest in the shape of a barcode. I don’t think I’d actually like the barcode Chandelier or Sofa (ouch) in my home or office but their existence somewhere is nice to know.

This is not my first encounter with barcodes as art however; QR codes are used widely within the world of marketing and therefore interact with consumers in a way most barcodes do not. This inevitably leads to people trying to make them more appealing and more attention grabbing. It is not uncommon to see a barcode out of the usual black/white mould these days. Some take this one step further and turn the QR Codes into functional artwork as shown by this website which describes how. As a company who provide barcode reading software  software this is essentially a nightmare as they are deliberately taking away the large redundancy provided by QR Codes which make them so effective. I have personally found several examples where so much data has been removed the barcode is no longer readable.It has also occurred to me that by turning the QR Code into art it becomes far less obvious to the consumer what they should do with it.

Our website is covered with pictures of barcode type images appearing in nature, mainly of course in the form of tree lines. Check them out for yourself here.



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