Uses and Applications of Barcode Technologies
Barcodes such as the UPC have become a ubiquitous element of modern civilization, as evidenced by their enthusiastic adoption by stores around the world; most items other than fresh produce from a grocery store now have UPC barcodes. This helps track items and also reduces instances of shoplifting involving price tag swapping, although shoplifters can now print their own barcodes. In addition, retail chain membership cards (issued mostly by grocery stores and specialty "big box" retail stores such as sporting equipment, office supply, or pet stores) use barcodes to uniquely identify consumers, allowing for customized marketing and greater understanding of individual consumer shopping patterns. At the point of sale, shoppers can get product discounts or special marketing offers through the address or e-mail address provided at registration.
They are widely used in the healthcare and hospital settings, ranging from patient identification (to access patient data, including medical history, drug allergies, etc.) to creating SOAP Notes with barcodes to medication management. They are also used to facilitate the separation and indexing of documents that have been imaged in batch scanning applications, track the organization of species in biology, and integrate with in-motion checkweighers to identify the item being weighed in a conveyor line for data collection.
They can also be used to keep track of objects and people; they are used to keep track of rental cars, airline luggage, nuclear waste, registered mail, express mail and parcels. Barcoded tickets allow the holder to enter sports arenas, cinemas, theatres, fairgrounds, and transportation, and are used to record the arrival and departure of vehicles from rental facilities etc. This can allow proprietors to identify duplicate or fraudulent tickets more easily. Barcodes are widely used in shop floor control applications software where employees can scan work orders and track the time spent on a job.
Barcodes are also used in some kinds of non-contact 1D and 2D position sensors. A series of barcodes are used in some kinds of absolute 1D linear encoder. The barcodes are packed close enough together that the reader always has one or two barcodes in its field of view. As a kind of fiducial marker, the relative position of the barcode in the field of view of the reader gives incremental precise positioning, in some cases with sub-pixel resolution. The data decoded from the barcode gives the absolute coarse position. An "address carpet", such as Howell's binary pattern and the Anoto dot pattern, is a 2D barcode designed so that a reader, even though only a tiny portion of the complete carpet is in the field of view of the reader, can find its absolute X,Y position and rotation in the carpet.
Some 2D barcodes embed a hyperlink to a web page. A capable cellphone might be used to read the pattern and browse the linked website, which can help a shopper find the best price for an item in the vicinity. Since 2005, airlines use an IATA-standard 2D barcode on boarding passes (Bar Coded Boarding Pass (BCBP)), and since 2008 2D barcodes sent to mobile phones enable electronic boarding passes.
Some applications for barcodes have fallen out of use. In the 1970s and 1980s, software source code was occasionally encoded in a barcode and printed on paper (Cauzin Softstrip and Paperbyte are barcode symbologies specifically designed for this application), and the 1991 Barcode Battler computer game system used any standard barcode to generate combat statistics.
In the 21st century, many artists have started using barcodes in art, such as Scott Blake's Barcode Jesus, as part of the post-modernism movement.
In 1981, the United States Department of Defense adopted the use of Code 39 for marking all products sold to the United States military. This system, Logistics Applications of Automated Marking and Reading Symbols (LOGMARS), is still used by DoD and is widely viewed as the catalyst for widespread adoption of barcoding in industrial uses