Barcoding – a history and the future

Many youngsters these days are not aware of how recent barcoding technology actually is. In the 1970’s a mere forty odd years ago, it would have been a rarity to see a barcode – anywhere.

Before the barcode, retail was not nearly as efficient as it currently is. Often, till assistants would have to memorise the price of every product in the shop, or products would be individually priced. Furthermore, it was almost impossible to keep tabs on stock levels in real time.

Barcodes revolutionised industry.

Barcoding in retail

Now when you pick an item and take it to the till, a barcode is scanned. The till is linked to a central database where all the barcodes for that shop (or even the entire shop chain) are stored. Information on the price of the product, the stock of the product and usually a description and or image of the product, is all stored in relation to the barcode. Upon scanning, the price is retrieved from the database and one unit is deducted form the shops stock list.

Barcoding makes it easy to increase prices and to reorder stock, that way if something has high demand and is selling fast, more orders can (sometimes electronically) placed and the store can consider raising the price.

Barcoding in car production

Barcodes are also used in many other areas, one example being car production. In car production, each car will be given a barcode. That barcode will often contain information such as the type of car that is to be made, how the car is to be styled, what colour the car is to be pained etc.

Parts that have been made for that car will often also be associated with the same barcode, to ensure that every bit gets to the right car.

The classic barcode is the one with lots of vertical lines, each of different thickness. Below is an example of a classic barcode.

A Random Classic BarcodeDespite the classic barcodes uses, many people believe that the future of barcoding lies with QR codes.

QR Codes

QR codes are like barcodes in that they are all unique, however the image itself can actually store some information. QR codes are common in Japan, however they are slowly making their way westward, and and not uncommon in Europe now.

If you go to your fridge or a cupboard and pick up half a dozen items, the chances are at least one of them will have a QR code. I found one on some cheese the other day 🙂

QR Code‘ stands for ‘Quick Response Code‘ as they can quickly retrieve information, just by decoding the pixels in the QR code/image.

QR Codes are basically a code (durr) containing some form of information, be it text, a URL, etc. When you run the image through a QR decoder, it will work out what data is stored in the image.

Confused? Okay, let me give you an example. Below is a QR code image. If run the image through a smart phone QR decoder or an online QR decoder, you should find that it contains the information ‘www.TechnologyBloggers.org’. Why not try it out?

Technology Bloggers QR Code

When decoded this QR Code says 'www.TechnologyBloggers.org'


That information is stored in the actual image, and there is no need for you to connect to a database. That is why many people believe that they are the future of barcoding, as a barcode stores no actual data in the lines, just a reference to a counterpart on a database.

QR codes could store the name of a product and the price on that actual barcode image – although to deduct stock, they would need to be linked into the stock database.

In many countries, QR codes are being used in advertisements, and in some places, that are being used as the actual advert. This is to try and encourage people to decode the image and find out what it means.

So what do you think, are QR codes the future of barcoding? Could they both coexist, or will one emerge on top? What is your opinion of QR codes?

Over to you 🙂

Lessons Learned from Using Electronic Signatures

Ever since the E-Sign Act was passed, many businesses and individuals have turned to electronic signatures. Let’s explore some electronic signatures benefits, and how they can help your business, too.

If you are considering e-signatures for your business needs, this technology is sure to make your business operate more efficiently and make your life easier. Here are some of the things that you will quickly learn for yourself as you begin using electronic signatures.

Electronic signature can allow your office to go paperless. Documents requiring signature are one of the few reasons businesses still have printers and fax machines. What’s the need for paper when signatures can be obtained online? This is not only environmentally friendly, but will also help keep the office better organized and provide a more inviting work environment for you and your employees.

Electronic SignaturesYou will save lots of time by using electronic signatures. How? Your deals and transactions will be almost instantaneous, completed with just a click or two of the mouse. You will also save the money that is currently spent on paper, ink, envelopes, stamps, and all the supplies need for printing and mailing contracts and other documents. More important areas of the business can then receive more attention, thus increasing your revenue.

Likewise, if you are the customer who is signing a contract, electronic signatures will save you the time and frustration of signing a contract and looking around for a fax machine or stamp to return the signed contract.

Electronic signatures offer a greater sense of security to both parties in an agreement, as most electronic signature providers allow the parties involved to store and view the contract and associated audit and authentication data in a secure online archive. This also eliminates the risk of losing important records and paperwork through misplacement.

Based on these benefits, it is no surprise to see a majority of businesses implementing electronic signatures. In the near future, most businesses that are still doing things the old way will join the paperless revolution. Maintain your competitiveness, and don’t be the last one to make the change!

What happens in Japan stays in Japan?

Some say that despite Japan being the third largest economy in the world, what happens in Japan, usually stays in Japan. After the recent Tsunami, this seemed to be the case, initially.

However now that most of the countries industry has shut down, the effects are really being felt around the world. Why? Well, Japan is a major exporter of electrical and motorised goods – after all companies like Honda and Sony are based there.

A Busy Japanese Street - Representative of the Japanese EconomyOften the Japanese factories make some of the parts and then the final goods are assembled closer to where they are going to be sold. This is great as it increases capacity due to specialisation, but it does have it’s problems too.

Due to the Japanese parts of such businesses currently being shut down, the entire supply chain for such goods has ground to a halt, as nobody can get the parts they need out of Japan.


Around the world Japanese firms are shutting down their plants, due to a lack of parts. Toyota are actually now withdrawing their UK operations due to the Tsunami – among other things.

Japanese Car Logos

The logos of well known Japanese cars

Sony are in a similar situation, as their firm is considering a complete shut down for 2 weeks due to power shortages. No doubt other firms like Panasonic, Nissan and Fujitsu wont be far behind too.

It looks like the shifting of a few tectonic plates might have caused a lot more than a devastating earthquake and tsunami, but also a slowdown in the global tech industry – leading to a large loss of jobs worldwide 🙁

What are your views on this, will the world really struggle without Japan?