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Standards Spotlight

Views of Real-World Impact

ANSI shines a spotlight on Standards in action as they support safety, efficiency and well-being in interesting aspects of everyday life.


New 2d Barcodes Unlock a Wealth of Information, Expedite Operations for Business


Did you know that the first barcode was inspired by Morse Code and designed with a likeness to a bullseye? Barcodes—which evolved into the Universal Product Code (UPC) parallel line pattern accompanied by 12 numbers that many of us are most familiar with—have helped expedite commercial transactions and improve inventory management for over five decades. The newest generation of two-dimensional or “2d” barcodes, shaped like squares or rectangles with a dot pattern, unlock important information for consumers and businesses alike, as they can reveal product safety and sustainability data and enhance traceability across the supply chain.

ANSI member GS1 US highlights the vast capabilities of 2d barcodes as it partners with industry in its Next Level Supply Consumers podcast: “The Future is Now: The Next Dimension in Barcodes and What it Means for Supply Chain.” The episode looks at what’s in store for the future of barcodes, which are scanned over 6 billion times a day.

GS1 US, the global standards body for item identification, explains that the technology that drives 2d barcodes promises to improve product safety, give us greater transparency into the origins of the items we buy, and enhance consumers’ lives with suggestions about how to use or prepare purchases. Scanning a 2d barcode can help consumers see where something was grown, the factory where a garment was sewn, the sustainability practices of the company that made it—and even wash and care instructions.

Furthermore, GS1 US reports that it is orchestrating a worldwide initiative called "Sunrise 2027," in which it will help both supply- and demand-side organizations and solution providers transition from the standard 12-digit barcode to a two-dimensional web-enabled version.

A number of standards developing organizations have established guidelines that support barcodes, including ISO/IEC 24724:2011, Information technology - Automatic identification and data capture techniques - GS1 DataBar bar code symbology specification. It specifies the characteristics of the GS1 DataBar symbology family, data character encodation, symbol formats, dimensions, print quality requirements, error detection, and decoding algorithms. For GS1 Composite symbols, ISO/IEC 24723 defines the 2D component. ISO/IEC 24724 and ISO/24723 were prepared by Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, Subcommittee SC 31, Automatic identification and data capture techniques.

ATIS-0300044, Guideline for The Identification and Bar Code Labeling of Cable Reels, helps establish a Cable Reel ID Code as a standard identification scheme for coding cable reels to identify ownership and reel size, and to provide a means of uniquely identifying a single cable reel from others bearing the same owner and size code. This standard was developed by the ATIS Automatic Identification and Data Capture Committee (AIDC).

INCITS 182-1990 (S2017), Guideline For Bar Code Print Quality, published by the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), covers the optical characteristics of a printed bar code symbol. It was developed by the Accredited Standards Committee X3, Information Technology. This document is an American National Standard (ANS).

These are just a few of the standards that support barcodes and the technology that powers them. What's next for barcodes on the horizon? Read more about 2d and its capabilities.