The original barcode was first invented in 1952 by a man named Joseph Woodland. Woodland created a symbol in the shape of a bull’s eye that a computer could interpret as a product number upon scanning. At the time, there was not enough technology to support the use on a wide scale, and the design was sidelined. However, in 1974 George Laurer was tasked with making the barcode more practically and improving the overall design. Laurer succeeded, and barcode scanners would become known as the UPC barcode for use around the world.
Since the early forms of Woodland’s original bullseye, the form and functionality of barcodes have seen much change. Currently there are two prominent barcode designs, 1D and 2D, and each has their own pros and cons. Depending on the task, these two types of barcodes can cater to different roles.
1 Dimensional (1D) barcodes are represented by parallel black bars and numbers. These are what you typically think of when you hear the word barcode. Laurer’s UPC codes, typically found in retail stores, are the most common type of 1D barcode. These contain a small amount of data that you can extract with a barcode scanner. According to Barcodes Inc, 1D barcodes can only hold between 20-25 characters of data.
The main benefit of 1D barcodes is in price. The barcode scanners for 1D barcodes are less expensive than the 2D counterparts. The is because 2D barcode scanning is newer and thus more expensive. If your organization does not need a large amount of data in barcodes, 1D is the money-wise option. Another advantage is the overall performance of the 1D barcode scanner. Generally, it performs faster, has a longer scanning range, and lighting is irrelevant.
2 Dimensional (2D) are barcodes that represent data in a matrix of contrasting cells. The most common is the QR code, which is heavily used for advertising and marketing. However, 2D barcodes can be used for much more. Unlike 1D, 2D barcodes can contain data vertically and horizontally, which can store much more info. According to Barcodes Inc, 2D barcodes can contain 2000 characters or more. They are also able to link to websites, can be used for product tracking, product identification, and more.
Another advantage is the ability to scan the barcode from any direction. This makes scanning quicker and more efficient. Another benefit is only needing to scan the barcode once to collect all information. 2D barcodes can populate multiple fields at once, but 1D barcodes require multiple scans. This is especially beneficial for working within a warehouse, where hundreds of scans are made a day. Also, 2D scanners have the ability to reduce the use of counterfeit items, by improving supply chain tracking. 2D barcodes can carry much more info than the 1D barcode, making products more difficult to counterfeit.
Main Differences Between 1D and 2D Barcodes
1D Barcode2D Barcode
|Amount of Data Stored||8-15 Characters||2000+ Characters|
|Error Correction||Cannot be damaged||Can be damaged and restored with error correction|
|Shape||Horizontal and rectangular||Shape is square, rectangular or circular|
|Popular Industries||Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Logistics, Transportation||Marketing, Advertising, Food Services, Electronics, Automotive, Engineering, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Warehousing, Aerospace, Telecommunications|
|Read data||Horizontally||Vertically and Horizontally|
This is the third blog post in our Barcode Scanner Buying Guide series. Check out the other posts in this blog series: