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2-Dimensional Symbol PDF417 Barcodes Barcode Technologies

Why use the 2-Dimensional Data Matrix?

2D Data Matrix code is rapidly becoming the accepted method of direct part marking for most aircraft and medical device manufacturing.

By arranging a grid of black and white checker board-like cells a code can be created that is capable of holding substantially more data in a smaller area than the conventional bar code.

Choosing the right two dimensional code for your application requires decisions on:

·         Physical space availability

·         Contrast issues

·         Printing technology (laser marking, dot peening, etc.)

·         Scanner/Reader requirements

·         Cost considerations

·         Mil-Std-130M compliance

All-Marks provides equipment to print Mil-Std-130M compliant 2D codes. In addition, we can provide integrated 2D code readers from such major suppliers as Siemens, Ci-Matrix, Microscan, DVT, Cognex and SICK as well as recommend the optimum hand held readers for your application.

Background Information

Linear or one-dimensional bar codes are limited in the amount of information that can be contained within the code. Other technologies, such as magnetic stripe or RF tags can hold more information but are more expensive to implement. In an effort to develop bar code symbologies that would hold more information, stacked codes were developed.

Stacked codes are linear bar codes printed one above the other to form a single symbol. These codes could be read by conventional reading equipment, such as laser or CCD handheld scanners. Some examples of stacked codes are Code 49, Code 16K and PDF417.

To increase the density of information even further, matrix codes were developed. Matrix codes encode information using fixed width light and dark cells and also utilize sophisticated error/erasure correction algorithms to compensate for lost or missing data, extraneous marks, or code damage. There is usually some standard locator pattern, that is part of the image, to assure correct orientation when decoding the symbol. This means that print quality and contrast are much less critical than with 1-D bar codes or stacked bar codes. In fact, matrix codes can be applied directly to silicon wafers, PCBs, automotive components, or other applications where paper labels are inappropriate.

Since they are not really "barcodes" anymore, conventional scanners can no longer read these codes. They are normally read by scanners using two-dimensional CCD devices that can capture an image of the entire symbol. Examples of matrix codes include Data Matrix, Maxi-code, Aztec Code, PDF 417, QR Code and Snowflake.

The amount of information contained within each individual two-dimensional mark allows independent database with complete freedom of movement, travelling together with a person or an item, object, package form, document, card or label. It does what wired networks can’t: allows you to immediately access your data regardless of location. In addition, encryption is available as an option when additional security is required. Moreover, because both matrix and stacked codes are machine-readable, it eliminates time consuming and error prone manual data entry.

Movement from Linear Bar Codes to 2D Codes

The shift from 1D to 2D coding is being driven by the fact that the traditional linear bar code is incapable of meeting industry’s desire to encode larger blocks of data, such as expiration dates, lot/batch numbers, serial numbers, product codes and traceability codes. Traditionally, the bar code industry has reacted to this demand by continuously shrinking the size of the linear codes and developing denser formats. However, this is constrained by the printing technology available to produce them. Additionally, numerous data integrity tests have been conducted to evaluate the robustness of both matrix and stacked codes. Results of these tests corroborate the fact that the newer symbologies that include error correction are extremely robust when compared with traditional 1D codes, when error rates shown to be less than one in 10,000,000 characters.

All-Marks has the capability of upgrading your present marking process to include 2D code marking and reading in compliance with Mil-Std-130M. Marking systems offered by All-Marks provide the capability to print traditional 1D bar codes as well as 2D codes. Our systems include laser marking and dot peening technologies for Direct Product Marking (DPM), thereby creating a permanent and robust mark without the expense and hassle of labels. All 2D codes require a 2D code reader for verification and/or validation which are additionally available through All-Marks.

2D Data matrix

A Data Matrix code is a two-dimensional matrix barcode consisting of black and white "cells" or modules arranged in either a square or rectangular pattern. The information to be encoded can be text or raw data. Usual data size is from a few bytes up to 2 kilobytes. The length of the encoded data depends on the symbol dimension used. Error correction codes are added to increase symbol strength: even if they are partially damaged, they can still be read. A Data Matrix symbol can store up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters.
Data Matrix symbols are rectangular in shape and usually square, they are made of cells: little elements that represent bits. Depending on the situation a "light" module is a 0 and a "dark" module is a 1, or vice versa. Every Data Matrix is composed of two solid adjacent borders in an "L" shape (called the "finder pattern") and two other borders consisting of alternating dark and light "cells" or modules (called the "timing pattern"). Within these borders are rows and columns of cells encoding information. The finder pattern is used to locate and orient the symbol while the timing pattern provides a count of the number of rows and columns in the symbol. As more data is encoded in the symbol, the number of cells (rows and columns) will increase. Symbol sizes vary from 8×8 to 144×144.

 

DataMatrix barcode is a 2D (two-dimensional) matrix barcode consisting of black and white "cells" or modules arranged in either a square or rectangular pattern. The information to be encoded can be text or raw data. Usual data size is from a few bytes up to 2 kilobytes. The length of the encoded data depends on the symbol dimension used. Error correction codes are added to increase symbol strength: even if they are partially damaged, they can still be read. DataMatrix 2D barcode symbol can store up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters.

DataMatrix 2D barcode symbols are rectangular in shape and usually square, they are made of cells: little elements that represent bits. Depending on the situation a "light" module is a 0 and a "dark" module is a 1, or vice versa. DataMatrix 2D barcode is composed of two solid adjacent borders in an "L" shape (called the "finder pattern") and two other borders consisting of alternating dark and light "cells" or modules (called the "timing pattern"). Within these borders are rows and columns of cells encoding information. The finder pattern is used to locate and orient the symbol while the timing pattern provides a count of the number of rows and columns in the symbol. As more data is encoded in the symbol, the number of cells (rows and columns) increases. Symbol sizes vary from 8×8 to 144×144.

 

Symbol PDF417 is a stacked linear 2D barcode symbol format used in a variety of applications, primarily transport, identification cards, and inventory management. PDF stands for Portable Data File. The PDF417 symbology was invented by Dr. Ynjiun P. Wang at Symbol Technologies in 1991. (Wang 1993) It is represented by ISO standard 15438.

In addition to features typical of two dimensional bar codes, PDF417's capabilities include:

  • Linking. PDF417 symbols can link to other symbols which are scanned in sequence allowing even more data to be stored.
  • User-specified dimensions. The user can decide how wide the narrowest vertical bar (X dimension) is, and how tall the rows are (Y dimension).
  • Public domain format. Anyone can implement systems using this format without any license.

 

QR Code barcodes are specific matrix barcode 2D two-dimensional codes, readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR is the abbreviation for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.

 

Data Matrix code is a 2D (two-dimensional) matrix barcode consisting of black and white "cells" or modules arranged in either a square or rectangular pattern. The information to be encoded can be text or raw data. Usual data size is from a few bytes up to 2 kilobytes. The length of the encoded data depends on the symbol dimension used. Error correction codes are added to increase symbol strength: even if they are partially damaged, they can still be read. A Data Matrix 2D barcode symbol can store up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters.

Data Matrix symbols are rectangular in shape and usually square, they are made of cells: little elements that represent bits. Depending on the situation a "light" module is a 0 and a "dark" module is a 1, or vice versa. Every Data Matrix is composed of two solid adjacent borders in an "L" shape (called the "finder pattern") and two other borders consisting of alternating dark and light "cells" or modules (called the "timing pattern"). Within these borders are rows and columns of cells encoding information. The finder pattern is used to locate and orient the symbol while the timing pattern provides a count of the number of rows and columns in the symbol. As more data is encoded in the symbol, the number of cells (rows and columns) will increase. Symbol sizes vary from 8×8 to 144×144.

Applications

Application of Data Matrix for digital postmarks (STAMPIT by Deutsche Post)

Universal industrial code reader

The most popular application for Data Matrix is marking small items, due to the code’s ability to encode fifty characters in a symbol that is readable at 2 or 3 mm and the fact that the code can be read with only a 20% contrast ratio. The Data Matrix is scalable, with commercial applications as small as 300micrometres (laser etched on a 600 micrometer silicon device) and as large as a 1 meter (3 ft) square (painted on the roof of a boxcar). Fidelity of the marking and reading systems are the only limitation.

The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) recommends using Data Matrix for labeling small electronic components

Data Matrix codes are part of a new traceability drive in many industries, particularly aerospace where quality control is tight and a black market exists for counterfeit or non-serviceable parts. Data Matrix codes (and accompanying alpha-numeric data) identify details of the component, including manufacturer ID, part number and a unique serial number. The US Department of Defense has selected Data Matrix for the mandatory unique identification of certain assets it procures for all of the services. Items from individual weapons to critical components of major systems must be permanently marked with a unique data matrix code in accordance with standards in Military Standard 130. Much of the Aerospace Industry, especially members of the Air Transport Association (ATA), aims to have all components of every new aircraft identified by Data Matrix codes within a tight deadline.[2]

Technical specifications

Data Matrix 2D barcodes symbols are made up of modules arranged within a perimeter finder and timing pattern. It can encode up to 3,116 characters from the entire ASCII character set (with extensions). The symbol consists of data regions which contain modules set out in a regular array. Large symbols contain several regions. Each data region is delimited by a finder pattern, and this is surrounded on all four sides by a quiet zone border (margin). (Note: The modules may be round or square- no specific shape is defined in the standard. For example, dot-peened cells are generally round.)

Symbols have an even number of rows and an even number of columns. Most of the symbols are square with sizes from 10×10 to 144×144. Some symbols however are rectangular with sizes from 8×18 to 16×48. All symbols utilizing the ECC200 error correction can be recognized by the upper right corner module being the same as the background color. (binary 0).

ECC200 is the newest version of 2D Data Matrix and supports advanced encoding error checking and correction algorithms (such as Reed-Solomon). ECC200 allows the routine reconstruction of the entire encoded data string when the symbol has sustained 30% damage, assuming the matrix can still be accurately located.

Data Matrix applications

A data matrix on a Mini PCI card, encoding the serial number

Data Matrix codes are becoming common on printed media such as labels and letters. The code can be read quickly by a scanner which allows the media to be tracked, for example when a parcel has been dispatched to the recipient.

For industrial engineering purposes, Data Matrix codes can be marked directly onto components, ensuring that only the intended component is identified with the Data Matrix encoded data. The codes can be marked onto components with various methods, but within the aerospace industry these are commonly industrial ink-jet, dot-peen marking, laser marking, and electrolytic chemical etching (ECE). These methods give a permanent mark which should last the lifetime of the component.

After creation of the Data Matrix code, the code is usually verified using specialist camera equipment and software. This verification ensures the code conforms to the relevant standards, and ensures it will be readable for the lifetime of the component. After the component enters service, the Data Matrix code can then be read by a reader camera, which decodes the Data Matrix data which can then be used for a number of purposes, such as movement tracking or inventory stock checks.

Data Matrix codes, along with other Open Source codes such as 1D Barcodes can also now be read with mobile phones, simply by downloading the application to compatible mobile phones. Although the majority of these mobile readers are capable of reading Data Matrix, only a few can extend the decoding to enable mobile access and interaction, whereupon the codes can be used securely and across media; for example, in track and trace, anti-counterfeit, e.govt, and banking solutions.

1. Mobile ticketing is the process whereby customers can order, pay for, obtain and validate tickets from any location and at any time using mobile phones or other mobile handsets. Mobile tickets reduce the production and distribution costs connected with traditional paper-based ticketing channels and increase customer convenience by providing new and simple ways to purchase tickets. Mobile ticketing is a prime example of horizontal telecommunication convergence.

2. Mobile ticketing is a method by which law enforcement agencies use in-car computers to create traffic citations in the field, then print a hard copy for the offender. The advantages of mobile ticketing include reduced paperwork time, reduced chance of tickets being made void by human error and immediate accessibility of citation information by other departments

Applications for Mobile Tickets

  • Airline check-in
  • Cinema ticketing
  • Concert/Event ticketing
  • Consumer voucher distribution
  • Mass transit
  • Trade shows

Advantage of mobile tickets

  • Improved consumer convenience
  • Increased revenue by increasing accessibility of tickets
  • Reduced infrastructure costs (scanners retail at 30 times the cost of 1d scanners)
  • Reduced ticket printing/mailing cost

Using Mobile Tickets

Mobile Purchase

Over the past 10 years, e-commerce has exploded, with many consumers becoming increasingly comfortable with purchasing online. The next logical step for consumers who are looking for even more convenient methods of doing business is mobile purchase. This trend will be accelerated by the increased functionality of today's mobile devices.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 2007 announced a global standard that paves the way for global mobile phone check-in using two-dimensional (2D) bar codes. The industry has set a deadline of the end of 2010 to implement 100% bar coded boarding passes (BCBP). Upon full implementation, BCBP is said to be able to save the industry over US $500 million annually.

Mobile Tickets can be purchased in a variety of ways including online, via text messaging or over the phone from a voice call, WAP page, or a secure mobile application. For repeated purchases such as daily train tickets, mobile applications or text messaging are good options. The drawbacks to text message purchasing is that either the vendor loses 40% of their revenue to the mobile operator, or any credit card purchase has to be achieved through a web page as the SMS has no security suitable for credit card entry, and very few ticket choices can be easily remembered and entered by SMS.

SMS Purchase

SMS purchase is usually achieved by sending an SMS message containing a short code (e.g. GV for a single adult ticket in Gothenburg, Sweden) to a service number. A return message is sent containing the mobile ticket. Different ticket types can be ordered with a different code (e.g. GU for a youth ticket or GN as a night tariff ticket in Gothenburg). The use of different ordering codes enables creating a variety of ticket types, either time- or distance based pricing and different zone systems.

The price of the ticket can be added to the users mobile phone bill or debited from their pre-paid service using premium SMS billing. The main business limitation is that when premium SMS is used for billing, around 40% of the transaction value is retained by the mobile operator and sms aggregator, which is not viable when the ticket has a conventional profit margin. The revenue share model need to be re-negoatiated separately with teleoperators to suit for mobile ticketing. Other methods for billing include having a mobile wallet that allows the phone user to charge their credit card, but the limitation is the low usage volume of these kind of payment solutions.

Online Purchase

Online purchase is still an option for mobile tickets, allowing the user to setup an account and choosing payment options etc.

Mobile Ticket Delivery

Delivery of tickets to mobile phones can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Text messaging (SMS) - visual inspection or OCR
  • Text messaging with WAP Push - visual inspection or OCR
  • Picture messaging (SMS, EMS, WAP Push and MMS) - usually uses a barcode
  • Dedicated Mobile application - which can store and render barcodes delivered via SMS, GPRS, Bluetooth, IRDA or RFID. Barcodes rendered on the device by a dedicated application have the advantage of being full screen without clutter, meaning faster and more successful scanning. A dedicated mobile application can also help the user to organise and sort their tickets better than when an SMS or MMS inbox is full of similar tickets, which is especially useful for transport tickets.
  • Device RFID - This is the method proposed under the Near Field Communication (NFC) specification but not yet in general use, except of Japanese Osaifu-Kētai, literally meaning "Wallet Mobile.

Southend United Football Club is currently the only team in the UK to have a mobile ticketing facility offered to fans.

Very few phones outside Japan have RFID/NFC tags and so this method of delivery is largely unsupported. Picture messaging is supported by almost all phones and is generally the delivery method of choice. It usually requires the sender to know the phone model in advance so that the picture is rendered at the correct resolution. Text-only messaging is supported by all mobile phones and is the simplest method of delivery.

Mobile Ticket Scanning

Visually validated mobile tickets do not require a scan device. Most forms of mobile tickets require some form of device to read the ticket from the user's device. Picture-based messages require a laser scanner (for 1-dimensional/linear barcodes) or camera based imager (for 2-dimensional barcodes) to photograph the message and decode it into a ticket ID. Text-based codes use OCR software. Near Field Communication devices scan using an RFID reader.

Each of the above methods has its specific benefits and drawbacks. Optically reading the display of a cell phone is heavily influenced by the quality of the display (resolution, size of pixels, reflections). RFID is only supported by a very few phones yet.

Mobile Ticket Redemption

Visually validated mobile tickets are validated without connection to a back office system. Other forms of mobile ticket systems contact a server that is able to verify the ticket and record that it has been used.

New systems that make use of encryption of the data inside the barcode enable off-line scanning and validation, which is especially important if users are purchasing tickets immediately prior to use, and the portable venue or on-vehicle scanning devices cannot always have a connection to the live ticket database. (Many transport ticketing systems, such as the London Oyster card travel system and the M-PhaTic system of the Swedish state railways SJ are designed so that scanners can operate as disconnected islands when connectivity to central systems is lost.)

 


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