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  #1  
Old 08-10-2009, 05:48 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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What are these square "barcode" type things showing up everywhere?

Recently on quite a few products - notably toiletries - I've noticed a small square code like a barcode only made up of square "pixels" of black and white. Are these going to replace barcodes or do they do something else entirely?

I've come across QR Codes which can link to websites etc, but they look bigger and more complex than the codes I've seen.
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  #2  
Old 08-10-2009, 05:58 PM
friedo friedo is online now
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Here is a page with a whole bunch of different 2D barcode designs. I started noticing them a few years ago on UPS shipping labels; they are more common now.

A regular barcode can only encode information linearly. A 2D one gets you a lot more bang for the buck.
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  #3  
Old 08-10-2009, 11:07 PM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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The small 2D square barcodes also appear on newer McCormick spice bottles. I emailed them asking what they were for, and they responded saying they were for internal tracking processes.

Which is a shame, because they could be using them to their advantage. You can take pictures of the barcodes with a camera phone while at the store that could read them and take you to a webpage with recipes listed. How much cooler would that be?
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  #4  
Old 08-11-2009, 01:57 AM
Rayne Man Rayne Man is offline
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The last time I travelled by air I was able to check-in online. The boarding pass I printed off from my computer contained one of these new bar codes which was then scanned at the airport gate.

I also print off my own postage labels when selling books on Ebay and Amazon. There again these labels have the same square bar code.
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  #5  
Old 08-11-2009, 02:34 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by Rayne Man View Post
The last time I travelled by air I was able to check-in online. The boarding pass I printed off from my computer contained one of these new bar codes which was then scanned at the airport gate.
That's pretty standard now. On Southwest you can get your number on line, on the boarding pass with the 2D barcode.

They also go on top of microprocessors, so when they go and and when they get returned they can be scanned and entered in a database. That lets you know where everyone is, and if the ones coming back have been manufactured close together.
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  #6  
Old 08-11-2009, 06:00 AM
Jinx Jinx is offline
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A news article claimed these 2D barcodes hold tons more info than the conventional bar codes. And, newer cell phones will have a 2D barcode reader. The only purpose the article could suggest was that these 2D codes can be added to gravestones to store pictures and all kinds of info on a person's life...to be read by the cell phone reader. Other than that...and price checks...I can't see why we all need 2D readers on our future cell phones!
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  #7  
Old 08-11-2009, 08:19 AM
groman groman is offline
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
I can't see why we all need 2D readers on our future cell phones!
Well it's not like it's another part. It's just a piece of software that uses an image from the camera.
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  #8  
Old 08-11-2009, 08:35 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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The 2D barcodes, as noted, can code a lot more information. The downside is that they're not as easy to read. 1D barcodes can be read with a light source (laser or LED) and a single detector, and many barcode readers don't have much more than that. 2-D code readers have to be cameras, usually CCDs. And they need enough intelligence to be able to internally rotate and interpret the image. The last company I worked for specialized in the hardware and software of machine vision for precisely these applications. Naturally, they were gung-ho for these new 2D codes.
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  #9  
Old 08-11-2009, 08:45 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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A recent publicity campaign (of the kind where you can get free stuff via codes in the packaging) in Spain used them instead of alphanumeric codes. Instead of "enter the alphanumeric code into our webpage or send it via SMS," you had to take a pic with your cellphone and SMS the pic.

I don't know how well it worked.
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  #10  
Old 08-11-2009, 09:11 AM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
A recent publicity campaign (of the kind where you can get free stuff via codes in the packaging) in Spain used them instead of alphanumeric codes. Instead of "enter the alphanumeric code into our webpage or send it via SMS," you had to take a pic with your cellphone and SMS the pic.

I don't know how well it worked.
Seems like bad ideas never die.
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  #11  
Old 08-11-2009, 09:32 AM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Originally Posted by groman View Post
Well it's not like it's another part. It's just a piece of software that uses an image from the camera.
There's an app for it. I downloaded one of these soon after I got my iPhone and it didn't work all that well. I see now that there are a lot of them.
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  #12  
Old 08-11-2009, 10:22 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
Seems like bad ideas never die.
The CueCat was a horrible idea because it required everyone to get that specific piece of hardware. This only requires people to use the cell phone they already have. (Yes, there are people who will never get a cell phone. Nobody in the marketing world cares about them.)

Last edited by Derleth; 08-11-2009 at 10:22 AM..
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  #13  
Old 08-11-2009, 10:44 AM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
A recent publicity campaign (of the kind where you can get free stuff via codes in the packaging) in Spain used them instead of alphanumeric codes. Instead of "enter the alphanumeric code into our webpage or send it via SMS," you had to take a pic with your cellphone and SMS the pic.
My wife's MyTouch phone can read barcodes. Scanning them brings up the product's entry in the Weight Watcher's database on her phone so she immediately knows how many points something is worth per serving. Kind of cool.
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  #14  
Old 08-11-2009, 11:18 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
My wife's MyTouch phone can read barcodes. Scanning them brings up the product's entry in the Weight Watcher's database on her phone so she immediately knows how many points something is worth per serving. Kind of cool.
See? This is another reason the CueCat was a horrible idea: The only intended use* for the damn thing was Digital Convergence's business model, which consisted of scanning ads to take you to the relevant corporate website. The modern cell phone barcode scanners can do useful things like this.

*(In this case, 'intended use' means 'do anything else with it and Digital Convergence would sue you'. This was a genuine thing back when the CueCats were being given away free at Radio Shack.)
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  #15  
Old 08-11-2009, 11:30 AM
Rayne Man Rayne Man is offline
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In the UK you can buy train tickets via a mobile phone. The phone receives a barcode which is used as a virtual ticket:-
http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/...r-mobile-phone
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  #16  
Old 08-11-2009, 11:32 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Originally Posted by Derleth View Post
This only requires people to use the cell phone they already have.
Presuming that cell phone has a camera and the ability to use the app linked above, right?
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  #17  
Old 08-11-2009, 12:38 PM
Daithi Lacha Daithi Lacha is offline
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There's one of these new-fangled "barred code" thingamabobs on a billboard downtown here. I believe it's on a real estate sign. The code-box easily takes up a quarter of the sign.
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  #18  
Old 08-11-2009, 01:24 PM
Troy McClure SF Troy McClure SF is offline
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They're pretty spiffy. I was giving someone a mutual friend's contact info. Instead of me reading everything and him typing everything in, I just went to the contact in my G1, clicked "create barcode" and my friend scanned it with his G1. Phone numbers, email, addresses, all instantly read & added.

Similarly, there's a website taking advantage of these. If you find a place you like on BeerMapping.com, you can scan the barcode with your phone, and presto, you have the mobile URL for that place on your phone.

I use a G1 (Android), but there's really no reason any cameraphone couldn't use the technology.
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  #19  
Old 08-11-2009, 01:47 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Originally Posted by Troy McClure SF View Post
They're pretty spiffy. I was giving someone a mutual friend's contact info. Instead of me reading everything and him typing everything in, I just went to the contact in my G1, clicked "create barcode" and my friend scanned it with his G1. Phone numbers, email, addresses, all instantly read & added.
Cool, I didn't know my G1 could do that. (Though it seems to be a functionality added by the "Barcode Scanner" app and not built into Android)

I also know some people who put 2D barcodes on their business cards, which seems like a very good application. I can point my phone at the business card and import all the info.
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  #20  
Old 08-11-2009, 01:48 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is online now
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It appears UPS uses MaxiCode, although I can't say I've ever noticed it. Wikipedia has a list.
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  #21  
Old 08-11-2009, 01:52 PM
ShadowFacts ShadowFacts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy McClure SF View Post
They're pretty spiffy. I was giving someone a mutual friend's contact info. Instead of me reading everything and him typing everything in, I just went to the contact in my G1, clicked "create barcode" and my friend scanned it with his G1. Phone numbers, email, addresses, all instantly read & added.

Similarly, there's a website taking advantage of these. If you find a place you like on BeerMapping.com, you can scan the barcode with your phone, and presto, you have the mobile URL for that place on your phone.

I use a G1 (Android), but there's really no reason any cameraphone couldn't use the technology.
I have a G1 and don't seem to have that "create barcode" ability. What app did you download to add that feature?
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  #22  
Old 08-11-2009, 01:54 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Originally Posted by ShadowFacts View Post
I have a G1 and don't seem to have that "create barcode" ability. What app did you download to add that feature?
It's called "Barcode Scanner", search for it in the Marketplace.
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  #23  
Old 08-11-2009, 02:06 PM
muttrox muttrox is offline
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
I can't see why we all need 2D readers on our future cell phones!
You aren't thinking hard enough. Here's a simple one. You see a pair of jeans you like at a store. You scan the code with your phone. The phone has an app that checks prices of the same jeans at other stores and tells you that you can get the exact same item for 30% less two miles down the road. That could be done for pretty much anything you buy, from jeans to computer to cars.

You see an ad for a diner that looks interesting. You scan the code and your phone integrates to suggest it the next time you're in the area. Or points out that the Department of Health just gave it a C. Or that your friend on Facebook mentioned it. Or there was a review in yesterday's paper.

You get the idea. It allows your computer to use data that's out in the "real world" as inputs to all kinds of programs and systems.
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  #24  
Old 08-11-2009, 02:12 PM
Troy McClure SF Troy McClure SF is offline
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Originally Posted by muttrox View Post
It allows your computer to use data that's out in the "real world" as inputs to all kinds of programs and systems.
Or between two different types of computers, like my BeerMapping example above. Something like that's been needed for a while, though I guess Bluetooth partially solves that problem.
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  #25  
Old 08-11-2009, 02:16 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
I can't see why we all need 2D readers on our future cell phones!
We don't need it. But it is useful at times, and the cost is trivial. (If a phone already has a camera - which many/most do - then all it takes is a bit of software. Probably free to the user, and a small one-time cost for the developer/manufacturer. No per-unit cost to anyone.)
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  #26  
Old 08-11-2009, 06:13 PM
Risha Risha is offline
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For the record, these aren't particularly new - I was programming them on forms sent out by my company several years ago.

I'm not sure how much information a normal barcode could hold, but these held quite a bit - internal person id numbers, SSNs (this was before personal data privacy was big), internal form id numbers, a count of how which form it was out of the entire print job, a count of what page it was for that particular person, the client id, and I think maybe the date and a few other client custom items. And that left plenty of space left over.

We used these to automatically stuff the envelopes, if you're wondering - instead of a person manually figuring out how many pages belonged to a specific person, what forms for that person could legally be combined into one envelope, what person-specific inserts were needed, and which client-specific envelopes to use. That's a big and error-prone job when you were printing 20,000, 50,000, or 100,000 forms at a time.

Last edited by Risha; 08-11-2009 at 06:14 PM..
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  #27  
Old 08-11-2009, 07:18 PM
minor7flat5 minor7flat5 is offline
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The small square ones I see most often are typically Data Matrix 2D bar codes.

These are easily distinguished by the L-shaped line on the left and bottom edges and the checkerboard top and right edges.

They can be made quite tiny. In my business (pharmaceutical research), they are used on very tiny plastic tubes called "pico tubes" that each are about 3mm wide, holding only a few micro liters of liquid. The tubes have a very tiny 2D barcode on the bottom so that a whole rack containing ~400 of the tubes can be run over a scanner that immediately reads the sample identifiers off of each tube.

These kinds of tubes are processed using high-throughput screening robotic equipment.

For an idea of how small these are, a 384-tube rack (16 columns x 24 rows) covers the same area as a dollar bill.
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  #28  
Old 08-12-2009, 12:32 PM
ShadowFacts ShadowFacts is offline
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Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
It's called "Barcode Scanner", search for it in the Marketplace.
Thanks!
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  #29  
Old 09-24-2011, 03:55 AM
ian foster ian foster is offline
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Square barcode

Most square barcodes you see these days are QR codes. They can conain up to about 7k of data and support different formats. (url's sms information, Vcards etc). The QR code was developed by Denso wave about 12 years ago to be used in their manufacturing process. The US and Europe are now starting to use these for marketing purposes. If you take a look at the trend you can see that the last three year s have been the most productive for qr codes :-

http://www.google.com/trends?q=qr+code and Theres a page expalining how QR codes work at http://www.qrme.co.uk/qr-code-resour...a-qr-code.html
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  #30  
Old 09-24-2011, 06:46 AM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
My wife's MyTouch phone can read barcodes. Scanning them brings up the product's entry in the Weight Watcher's database on her phone so she immediately knows how many points something is worth per serving. Kind of cool.
For real? I had no idea. Thanks for this tip!
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  #31  
Old 09-24-2011, 06:55 AM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
My wife's MyTouch phone can read barcodes. Scanning them brings up the product's entry in the Weight Watcher's database on her phone so she immediately knows how many points something is worth per serving. Kind of cool.

Do you know the name of the app? The native WW app doesn't seem to have this function (or if it does I am too groggy to find it).
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  #32  
Old 09-24-2011, 08:04 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Originally Posted by Motorgirl View Post
Do you know the name of the app? The native WW app doesn't seem to have this function (or if it does I am too groggy to find it).
You'll need it to find out how many points are in a serving of braaaains.
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  #33  
Old 09-24-2011, 08:08 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Anyway, this links to a couple apps for Android phones. Search Google for 'weightwatchers barcode scanner app' without quotes to find more.

The myTouch apparently runs Android, so it should work on one.

Last edited by Derleth; 09-24-2011 at 08:10 AM..
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  #34  
Old 09-24-2011, 09:33 AM
postcards postcards is offline
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Most square barcodes you see these days are QR codes....
Which were mentioned in the OP two years ago. They were asking about ones different from QR codes, which were nicely covered by the respondents.
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  #35  
Old 09-24-2011, 09:50 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
A news article claimed these 2D barcodes hold tons more info than the conventional bar codes. And, newer cell phones will have a 2D barcode reader. The only purpose the article could suggest was that these 2D codes can be added to gravestones to store pictures and all kinds of info on a person's life...to be read by the cell phone reader. Other than that...and price checks...I can't see why we all need 2D readers on our future cell phones!
I'm dreading the day having such a feature on your phone becomes almost required. I can barely afford the bare-bones cellphone I have now! Ditto having to have to go on line with your phone. Yes, it's handy stuff, but it costs money which not all of us have right now.

Technology is only wonderful when you have access to it AND you can afford it!
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