Tag Archives: technology

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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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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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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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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USPS Look to Book Festive Business with Barcodes

The United States Postal Service have announced they will once again be looking to raise awareness of their seasonal offers through encouraging people to engage with mail through new technologies such as mobile barcodes. This will allow business users of the mail service to qualify for a 1-2% discount on delivery over the period; a substantial sum for many firms. To qualify the companies simply have to include a QR Code on their mail, which can be read by the recipient, to take them to a personalised webpage or online catalogue.

In tandem with this is a campaign to encourage the distribution of coupons and promotional offers for mobile shoppers. For obvious reasons the USPS are keen to encourage mobile shopping, if you buy on your phone it will be them who are paid to get it to you! Therefore this seems very sensible, a company taking the initiative in ensuring the market moves in the direction that suits them as quickly as possible. This also demonstrates how QR Codes should be used, not as some weak promotional gimmick but as the link to something which encourages business whilst offering something to the customer.

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Barcodes Fighting Forgery

News agency Reuters have reported that scientists in America have developed a ‘nano’ QR Code printed from fluorescent ink which can be used to help prevent counterfeiting. The basic idea is that the QR Codes, invisibly to the naked eye, are printed on the bank notes so they can be checked for authenticity later. Many people may ask why QR Codes? Bank notes have had invisible ink used to track them for years! Well QR Codes can contain far more information, and this information can be linked to a database which means without access to the database it will mean nothing to those attempting replication. Secondly they can be printed so small that they could be made to only be visible through a microscope, again making the job of any potential counterfeiters much harder.

Barcodes, in their simplicity are the ideal solution. The price to print them is only ever as much as the ink, compared to NFC chips which are less versatile. It is for this reason that it will be a very long time until we see them out of use, in fact it appears uses for barcodes are forever expanding.

If you want to explore what barcodes can do for your business then check out our website.

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Mobile Giants Battle over Barcode Patents

We have all heard recently of the patent battles raging between Samsung and Apple; Samsung now have to pay huge sums of money to Apple. This is nothing new and seems to have become a rather ugly side to the world of business where legal departments do battle. Aside from the fact that a patent should be an ‘unintuitive’ step, which most of their patents for ’rounded edges’ are not, it means that the consumer loses out. Less choice and higher prices seem to be the inevitable outcome.

However the patents that companies are battling over does show clues as to the future of mobiles technology. With this in mind I have been very interested to see in the news patents for mobile barcode technology being awarded to the large mobile companies. They appear to be mainly related to capabilities for enhanced shopping experiences where you can scan a barcode to add something to your shopping list. This is not a new concept with Tesco including it within their mobile shopping app quite a while a go. This point aside, though, it is clear that the expansion of barcode enabled mobile shopping is going to arrive.

If you want to get ahead of the game with mobile barcode technology then check out our website.

Where do you see mobile barcode technology going?

Jack

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