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Barcodes and your cellphone

Barcodes are no longer appearing solely on letterheads and envelopes, they are now integrated with a device you already own – your cellphone.

But what is a barcode? A barcode is a machine readable image that contains a message. With many types of barcodes to choose from, short messages up to hundreds of characters can be placed in a barcode – less reliability and thousands of characters are possible. A scanning device reads the barcode and returns the original message. This works even if the barcode is damaged or lighting conditions aren’t ideal.

Fortunately, the expensive scanning devices of yesterday have been rendered somewhat obsolete by cellphones which contain a camera and the software to read barcodes.

From encoding your email address, telephone number and website address in a so-called vCard and printing it on your business card to promoting your website by gluing stickers with barcodes to street lights, you can place a barcode literally anywhere.

When it comes to selecting a barcode format, there are 1-D and 2-D barcode formats – the major difference being the amount of characters that can be placed in one. To encode not just numbers but blocks of text, a 2-D barcode should be chosen, of which there are two popular ones: QR Code and DataMatrix.

Differences between QR Code and DataMatrix are mostly academic and in most cases, cellphones read both formats. To start using barcodes, use a QR Code Generator such as which supports QR Code and DataMatrix at the same time.

After entering your message, save the barcode image, print it and have it discovered by other people.

Once you’ve used barcodes, you’ll see them everywhere.

About Emma Gilbert

Working in the marketing industry since 2002. This blog is one of my hobbies.

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