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article imageStill scanning: 40th anniversary of the barcode

By Tim Sandle     Oct 1, 2019 in Technology
Spalding - Wednesday 2nd October will be 40 years since the first barcode was scanned in the U.K. at Keymarkets in Spalding, Lincolnshire. Today the barcode is used in hospitals, the food industry, helping to identify allergens, and the retail industry.
The first barcode scan took place in the U.K. on 2 October 1979, at a supermarket called Keymarkets located in the town of Spalding, Lincolnshire. Since then the barcode has helped to transform the industry where items are scanned more than 70,000 times around the world every second. A barcode is a method of representing data in a visual, machine-readable form. The barcode was invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver and patented in the US in 1951. However, it was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that most industrialized nations began using barcodes.
Some applications with the barcode are outlined below, based on information compiled by GS1 UK (a community of more than 39,000 members working in retail, foodservice, and healthcare).
Health service
The barcode has aided the U.K. National Health Service (NHS), saving thousands of lives and a driving economy savings of £1 billion over seven years. In terms of application, barcodes uniquely identify every person, product and place – helping to enhance patient safety, reduce unwarranted clinical variation and improve operational efficiencies.
In addition, barcodes are used to help manage health records and identify medications, determining whether products are safe to use and still in date. This makes processes much more efficient and frees up precious time for doctors and nurses. In a most recent application, operating theatre procedures are now scanned to record important data and reduce human error. Furthermore, every baby born in an English hospital can be identified through the application of an NHS number using GS1 standards.
Food industry
New technology under development will enable consumers to scan their products to find out exactly what ingredients it contains and where they came from, meaning that a humble barcode could potentially prevent allergy deaths and reduce the need for product recalls.
As an extension of this, new barcoding technology could allow people to see a product’s journey from start to finish – that could mean vegetables going from farm to fork, or seeing a bottle of wine go from grape to glass. The advantage of this is that if contamination enters the food supply chain, it will be possible to identify it at source, isolate it and remove the items quickly.
Retail landscape
Barcodes are used by every key retailer and brand in the world, allowing them to uniquely identify all products so that they can easily be tracked through supply chains. Barcodes have enabled digital marketplaces to be so successful, for example, Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping require sellers to use barcode numbers on all of their listings to authenticate products and make sure that shoppers can find, compare and buy products that they trust quickly and easily.
More about Barcode, barcoding, Scanning, digitall data, Retail
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