The barcode turns 50. What's next?

2D barcodes are set to change the way industries handle processes once more

by

Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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2D barcodes can detail a product’s journey from start to end, providing customers with information about the source and sustainability of a product. - Supplied photo
2D barcodes can detail a product’s journey from start to end, providing customers with information about the source and sustainability of a product. - Supplied photo

Published: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 11:45 AM

As the ubiquitous barcode — that tiny stretch of thick and thin lines that has become commonplace on almost every shopping item we buy, recently turned 50, focus now turns on the next level of innovation — the 2D barcode.

2D barcodes are set to change the way industries handle processes once more. They revolutionise barcode standards by offering unprecedented features such as links to additional online details, post-purchase interactions, and improved analytics and insights. These will enable customers to use their smartphones to connect directly with the brand and access all the necessary product information.


2D barcodes can detail a product’s journey from start to end, providing customers with information about the source and sustainability of a product. For example, consumers would have the ability to trace the journey of milk from its origin as raw milk from a cow to its arrival as a carton of milk on the supermarket shelf.

These new 2D barcodes are being used in manufacturing, warehousing, logistics and healthcare. They connect businesspeople to the information they need for inventory management, traceability programmes, sustainability initiatives, consumer engagement actions and more.


GS1, the organisation behind the revolutionary concept, is placing renewed emphasis on next generation barcodes, the circular economy, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Since the invention of the barcode in 1973, GS1 has transformed the representation of data in visual form. - Supplied photo
Since the invention of the barcode in 1973, GS1 has transformed the representation of data in visual form. - Supplied photo

Since the invention of the barcode in 1973, GS1 has transformed the representation of data in visual form, leaving an indelible impact on almost every industry worldwide. Today, GS1 barcodes are present on over a billion retail products and are used in healthcare facilities globally. Partnerships with UAE government authorities such as the Federal Tax Authority, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Dubai Health Authority, and the Department of Health Abu Dhabi have strengthened GS1’s presence in the region.

Commenting on the milestone, Rami Habbal, CEO of GS1 UAE said: “Since entering the local market in 2000, GS1 UAE has helped thousands of companies benefit from our standards and solutions in streamlining their businesses in various industry sectors. The UAE is an international business hub and a global platform for business, from multinational giants to startups and new companies. It is a great place for GS1 to introduce the world to the new age of barcodes, 2D barcodes, the innovation that will create the next revolution in several industries.”

GS1 is working with industry to support the ambition to have all retailers able to read 2D barcodes at their points of sale by the end of 2027. One-dimensional barcodes will not completely go away: the company expects 1D, QR and DataMatrix codes to coexist in the retail landscape.

As GS1 celebrates its 50th anniversary and looks towards the future, it remains dedicated to driving innovation and delivering value to businesses and consumers alike across all 116 countries. “Our journey has always been about transforming the world of business through the power of standards and innovation. Looking forward, we remain committed to empowering businesses with cutting-edge solutions that drive growth, enhance sustainability, and improve customer experience,” Habbal concluded.


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