News Snippets, Technology

Just another bar code? Think again – this one stores 3 times the data

Think you’re looking at “Just-Another-Bar-Code”? Well, you are, but in more ways than one.

According to an article by Supply Chain Quarterly, researchers with the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) in America are drafting standards for a new type of two-dimensional barcode.

What differentiates this barcode from the rest, is its ability to store up to three times as much data as conventional barcodes by encoding data in a colourful matrix of dots instead of the typical black and white pattern.

Called the JAB-Code (Just-Another-Bar-Code, get it?), advocates say it could have a big impact on applications such as embedding identity documents with unique biometric information like fingerprints or iris scans.

Currently, documents such as birth certificates or travels visas only have enough storage capacity to record only basic identity data, according to current barcode standards, state the article. This requires users to go online to verify them.

A JAB-Code pattern however, can hold 300 bytes of data, according to Sprague Ackley, a fellow with Honeywell Sensing & Productivity Solutions and the chairman of AIM’s Working Group One (WG 1) standards body. The augmented storage capacity will allow document holders to skip the verification step and immediately confirm that they are the true holders of their paperwork.

The JAB-Code is a pattern that can deploy many colours—four, eight, 16, or more—and permit a flexible format for its shape, Ackley continued. A JAB-Code barcode can be printed in the shape of any combination of rectangles, such as a rectangle, a square, or a geometric U-shape.

With all consumer smartphones containing digital colour cameras able to read a multicoloured code, the JAB-Code is able to gain traction in recent years. However, its need for specialised equipment —such as colour printers and colour scanners—may restrict their applications in logistics, Ackley was quoted as saying.

As such, it is more likely that this technology will be adopted first in applications where companies are starting from scratch or were already planning a technology refresh. An exception may be applications where government agencies promote or even require JAB-Code because of its utility in the proposed use on identity documents.

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