• Barcode Ireland Team

Barcodes for good.

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Some of the more unexpected uses of barcodes.

Barcodes, commonly used in businesses such as retail for inventory management and tracking purposes, have many other unique, innovative use cases.

Revolutionising recycling

Invisible barcodes are currently being developed to protect retailers and consumers from fake and counterfeit products. The ‘invisible’ barcode uses microparticles that are almost invisible to the naked eye, and, having a base material of silicon dioxide, the tag is edible, has an infinite lifespan, and can withstand even the most extreme conditions. They are virtually impossible to remove and can be recovered should the product be destroyed. In industries that experience considerable counterfeiting, these invisible barcodes can assist with the identification of fake products and in the reduction of their circulation.

Yet another innovative use for ‘invisible’ barcodes potentially is in the recycling industry. Not only can it be difficult to separate and sort recycling appropriately at home, but also by machines and manually by workers at the recycling plant. By embedding a microscopic change in a pattern of pixels (an invisible bar code) on the product label, software can instantly identify the packaging material so it can be sorted and recycled correctly and expeditiously.

BBC News – Could ‘invisible barcodes’ revolutionise recycling?

Keeping track of trees

Conservationists have long been concerned with the decimation of the tropical rainforests due to illegal logging. A company named Helveta has created a plastic UPC barcode that is hammered into the still growing trees enabling scanning by loggers when harvested. Barcode technology has essentially allowed for the tracking of timber - each log being legally required to have a barcode authenticating its origin and destination thus ensuring the timber is harvested legally.

Keeping track of dementia patients

Japan, with its ageing population demographic, is utilising barcode technology as a means of tracking elderly dementia patients. A 1cm square QR code sticker, embedded with the patients personal information such as name, phone number and unique identity number, is attached to a finger and toenail. The codes can then be scanned by authorities to reunite patients with family members. Not only are the stickers more discreet and less invasive than previous technologies, but they are waterproof and remain attached for an average of two weeks.

There appears to be no limit to how barcodes codes can be used!

Assisting the homeless

Homeless people in Oxford, England, wear QR codes (a matrix barcode) around their necks as part of a social innovation project. It allows people without cash on hand to donate money via their smartphones, whilst also providing the persons background details, such as how they became homeless and what employment they previously held. Donors make an online payment into an account managed by a caseworker. This ensures that donations are only spent on approved targets, such as saving for a rental deposit.

Nutrition Apps

And lastly, the use of barcodes in nutrition - good for you.

The familiar UPC/EAN barcode on food products have been scanned in shops for decades but you can now scan food with your phone at home - there’s an app for that! Some nutrition apps have introduced this feature to enable users to track their calorific intake and nutrition.

Smartphones scan the food label of the consumable and this uploads the nutritional information associated with that food label to the app. The user then has a more accurate idea of calories consumed, and the overall health/nutritional value of their diet.

Our barcodes work internationally. Should you require barcodes, please visit our Buy page www.barcodeireland.ie/buy, or contact us on info@barcodeireland.ie or through the contact form on our website www.barcodeireland.ie/contact and let Barcode Ireland help your business.






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