The barcode turns 50: the origins and impact of the system before it was replaced by QR

The barcode turns 50: the origins and impact of the system before it was replaced by QR

The bar codethe well-known system for identifying commercial products, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023, before being progressively replaced by another system: the QR code, which contains more information.

Its vertical lines are scanned 6 billion times per day worldwide.

In addition to being the “identity document of a product”the bar code “allows professionals to have access to other functionalities.” such as stock management, transport and traceability, he explains to AFP Laurence Vallanadirector of SES Imagotag at Francea company specialized in electronic labeling.

Pack of chewing gum

Although the barcode was initially patented by the Americans Norman Joseph Woodland y Bernard Silver in 1952, it was not really perfected and commercialized until 1971under the impulse of the American engineer George Laurer.

After consultations between large industrialists and distributors it became in 1973 the system used to identify mass consumer products.

The first article scanned, on June 26, 1974 in. Ohiowas a pack of chewing gum that is now on display in the National Museum of American Historyin Washington.

Today it is the organization GS1 (Global Standard 1) — a not-for-profit organization with two million member companies — is responsible for the worldwide standardization of product identification.

For each product from each company that requests it, it delivers a unique identification code, the “global trade item number,” which is then translated into a bar code.

Each company must pay a contribution correlated to its turnover of 98 euros ($106) and 4 400 euros ($4 770) per year.

The game Go

Now a small revolution is on the horizon, explain. Renaud by Barbuat y Didier Velosopresident of GS1 World and president of GS1 Francerespectively.

By 2027, the barcode “will have given way to the new standard developed by the organization.”a QR code.

While the bar code makes some artists or critics of over-consumption think of prison bars, the appearance of the QR code refers to the Goa game of Chinese origin that, with its combinations of black and white dots arranged in a square, inspired its creator in 1994, the Japanese Masahiro Hara.

The code QR means Quick Response Code (Quick Response Code) and its advantage over the barcode is that it can integrate much more information, e.g. product composition.

“It contains more product information, shares endless digital content and creates new uses accessible to everyone, especially consumers.”synthesizes GS1.

Some brands are already adding these codes to their products, allowing customers to learn more about their manufacture or features.

This became widespread during the pandemic of COVID-19.

Applied to consumer products, GS1 estimates that the code QR will be “a formidable tool for developing the circular economy.”in particular recycling and reuse.

For the peace of mind of those who are nostalgic about the bar code, GS1 explains that “the 13 digits to identify a product will remain.”so the transition will be smooth. (AFP)

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Daniel Chapman