Advantages of Bar Codes

This article explains why barcode technology is widely used in industries and what the advantages and disadvantages of other methods.

The fast growing in micro computer industries greatly lower the entry for businesses to enter the markets. The requirement to computerized input technology is ever increasing.

There are many input methods in the markets. The traditional method is to use keyboard typing. It is good for an editor to compile articles, but is far not sufficient as a means of item input. The problem associated with manual typing is that the error rate is very high, approximately 1 error per 300 characters. To resolve this problem many automatic input method has been proposed and deployed.

Evaluation Measures

There are two important measures used in evaluating the input methods. The first is called SER (substitution error rate), which indicates the probability of a scanned character contains an error. The second parameter is the FRR (the first read rate) which indicates the probability of capturing all the data in the first attempt. In addition to that, the cost of printing and reading needs to examined.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

In 1970s, ANSI proposed the OCR standards to be used to label products or documents. OCR is a stylized font recognizable by both human and computers. The most commonly used OCR fonts are OCR-A and OCR-B, as shown below. Those characters were drawn using Morovia OCR-A & OCR-B Fonts.

OCR was selected as standards in some industries in 1970s but the usage has been declined as the barcode technology steadily receive the favor. The problem with OCR is that the SER is still too high to be used in major industries. Today except in large organization such as governments and banks, OCR is rarely used as an input method.

Magnetic Ink

Magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) is the commonly used checks in US, Canada and Western European countries.

MICR characters can be read optically and magnetically because it is printed with a magnetic ink. Currently banking industry is the only one using MICR technology due the legacy. Since special ink is required, the MICR is expensive for most industries. Below are the samples of MICR font (created with Morovia MICR E-13B Fonts:

Radio Frequency Identification (RF)

This technology is most advanced, but yet expensive to adopt. The RF readers transmits the commands to the tag, and the tag responds with a radio frequency which stores the information. The benefits of RF technology is that the signal can pass certain distance, easy to communicate with host computers.

Smart Cards (IC card)

A smart card is a small package containing circuits and memory chips. Smart card can be made contact-less. It can store and encrypt a lot of information. The cost is relatively high. Smart cards are usually carried by personnel, recoding personal information.

Bar code

The substantial advantages of barcode technology is very low printing cost and error rates. The density can be very high too with the invention of high density linear symbologies and 2D symbologies. The SER is usually 1 per 1 million characters and FRR is usually higher than 90%. Due to this reason, barcode technology is now widely used in most of industries as a means of automatic input.

Below shows a QR Code created by Morovia QRCode Font, with more than 50 characters encoded inside.