Barcodes evolution: A simpler tool for verification for businesses, users
We speak to Ravi Mathur, CEO of GS1 India, a not-for-profit standards organisation, on the adoption and evolution of barcodes over the years.
Barcodes are everywhere. From making a quick payment to scanning the code to verify a product, we use different iterations of barcodes in our daily lives. Interestingly enough, barcodes as a technology has existed since 1950s. Invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, the early version of barcode was based on Morse Code. The technology saw a commercial adoption in the US in following decades and quickly gained adoption in other countries.
A universal acceptance of the technology also makes it easier for businesses to track their products outside India. This also helps companies in situations such as recalling certain products at a bigger scale. Variations such as RFID tags are used extensively for tracking vehicles and even in the healthcare industry. Modern barcodes can also be read by any smartphone.
We spoke to Ravi Mathur, CEO of GS1 India, a not-for-profit standards organisation, on the adoption and evolution of barcodes over the years. Edited excerpts.
How can barcodes embrace modern technology equipment like Internet of Things?
If you use a barcode chip in an IoT device, you can use it for data analytics. For instance, if you use a RFID chip in a temperature sensor in a cold chain, the chip can help determine the average temperature of a product during the travel and even its movement from the factory to a retail point. The RFID can help you precisely determine the time when temperature went below the necessary standard. Combine the technology with augmented reality and virtual reality to get a richer insight whether it's a retailer point or brand owner or manufacturer.
Blockchain is said to be the next big thing. Will it replace barcodes?
No, not really. The purpose of blockchain technology is to deliver a distributed environment so that data simultaneously resides with the number of players in intermediaries so it's very difficult to commit a fraud, where everybody is aware. Barcodes can very compliment the blockchain network and can be used across industries including finance.
Can you share some of the common examples of barcodes?
RFID is being widely used in apparel. Most of the brands ship apparels with RFID chips. While you can use barcode for each apparel, RFID helps you log a bigger package, helping businesses with tracking their inventory. Medicines is another example where barcodes are widely used. These codes help users and authorities determine the genuineness of products.
How affordable and easily accessible is the technology for small businesses?
Barcoding itself is an art work. There is just a nominal cost paid out for getting this unique identifier for an SME it's a quite low and as you go up the large company they're little higher. Whether it's a large company or small it's never an issue of cost. However what's it's important for an SME, today SMEs can sell its products online. These codes ensure credibility for their products.