The Bar Code: Technology and Applications

Look at the cover page of any international magazine and you will notice stripes of black bars against white background. This tiny and ubiquitous printed label is the visible tip of a widespread yet almost unnoticed technology taken for granted but bursting with innovations.

With its complex web of embedded data, a bar code is a miniscule monument of ingenuity. It can be read from across a room; the very latest systems encode hundreds of characters on a square inch of paper.

But many of us, are not yet familiar with this useful and interesting technology, which has proved to be very popular in all advanced countries. Almost 90 per cent of all the goods manufactured and consumables overseas carry a bar code.

Bar code technology embodies a technique that can go hand-in-hand with automation in identifying, locating and tracking all the bewildering data and surrounding business activity. Advances in bar code and related data collection techologies enable business from a warehouse to hospitals to chemical processing plants to combine their operations more closely with the operational data. These advances stem from the miniaturisation of optics and processing electronics and more densily packed bar code labelling techniques.

A comprehensive and very informative article published in a recent issue of Electronics For You examines in detail such questions as What are bar codes? Reading the bar codes,The bar codes system, Laser Scanners, CCD Scanners, Advantage of Using bar code and Applications. A list of Bar Code Suppliers is also appended.

—Electronics For You, April 1995