Perhaps the easiest way to refer to them is the term, “Scanning Code Technology”? The evolution of optical labels, although steadfast, has not been as fast growing as most of the other technologies. I say fast growing, not in terms of their rate and levels of usage, but how quickly one technology is replaced by the other.
Almost everyone knows barcodes. I mean, they are just this series of dark parallel lines with varying width and numbers that are used to enter data into a computer system. These bars actually represent binary digits of 0 and 1 whose sequence represents numbers from 0 through 9.
Data from a barcode is read by a barcode reader and is usually about the manufacturer of a particular product, and the type of said product because barcodes are mainly associated with marketing and production.
One of the main advantages of using barcodes is that they allow users to process detailed information from the bar code and not just simply storing the data. Not to mention barcodes can be used to track commercial products that have been manufactured and distributed.
Its most common drawback is the fact that it stores lesser data.
QUICK RESPONSE CODES
Most people simply refer to these as QR codes. They are like barcodes, with only a few differences. In fact, they are barcodes, but in a different dimension (2D), and unlike barcodes, QR codes use more than just one encoding method. They both basically do the same thing, but what a barcode can do, a QR does even better.
They use numeric (numbers), alphanumeric (letters and numbers), binary (0s and 1s) and Kanji encoding modes. They are capable of storing more data than barcodes do and are have fast readability. They can be read by any digital imaging device, like a mobile phone with an in-built QR reader.
Now you might be wondering, what if a QR code fails to be scanned, because, it has happened to me once. In cases like these, I learned that a QR code is processed using the Reed-Solomon error correction code that oversamples a QR code until the image/data it represents is fully and correctly interpreted. Fascinating, right??
On the minus side however, QR code safety is highly debatable. The fact that it stores more than just one form of data means there is a possibility of security threats. The code itself isn’t the problem, but what it stands for is.
We’ve all seen a lot of scenarios where security of information is compromised, maybe from phishing, or even fraudulent URLs and malvertising. QR codes are no different, and for what it’s worth, before we scan any QR, be sure it is from a trusted source.
Reading and processing a QR code usually and entirely relies on its finder patterns (three bigger squares at the edges). One thing I find cool about a QR code is that its creator claimed no patent rights over it. Which means, anyone can create their own code and be able to use it (for the right purposes, of course).
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
RFID is a wireless technology that uses radio frequency waves for data transfer from items with RFID tags. These tags allow automatic identification and can read from items over 20 meters apart, depending on what type of RFID it is.
The RFID tags have a memory chip that stores detailed information about an item, like its location, manufacturer, serial number, and a lot of other stuff. These tags transmit data to an RFID reader that changes the RF waves into usable data.
Which optical label technology is better?
So, these technologies are here for the same purpose, item identification, and they have been around for years. Barcodes since 1948, QR codes since 1994, and RFID since 1983, with numerous modifications and functionalities over the years, each better than the last. It is no surprise that people would prefer one to the other, it is only a question of “WHY?”
Before I learned of RFID, I probably would have said that, between barcodes and QR codes, QR codes are better. But seeing as RFID tags have a lot to offer, store more data, and are probably more efficient than the first two, with the automated identification.
Not to mention, RFID chips can be read-write, unlike barcodes and QR codes that are read-only. But just because RFID has proven better doesn’t mean one needs to jump right in (not that it’s bad), but it obviously depends on what purpose you need to accomplish. No need for being too much, or less, because all these technologies most definitely have drawbacks.
There are many others like these, but for purposes of digitized marketing, I doubt I’d be wrong if I said these are the most eminent ones. Isn’t it marvelous how one doesn’t need to wait in line for their items to be summed up on that cashier’s calculator? And just when they thought that was all, it turns out they don’t even need to make lines at all. I guess it’s true, what they say, Technology only gets better.
Author: Simran Hajara
Hajara is an IT student, an aspiring web developer, and an up-and-coming writer. She is enthusiastic about learning and trying new things, coding, and filming. She believes it’s always best to take action than to wait for inspiration. That’s what makes one genius.
She also writes her own amazing stories on Wattpad too.