Ever used your smartphone to scan a QR code off of some packaging or marketing material? If not, it sounds like you are behind the times. That said, someone from our email list has asked a pretty darn good question, can a standard barcode scanner read QR codes? Well, I’m here today to answer that question, and the answer is NO! No, a standard barcode scanner typically cannot read QR codes.
Unless you have broken hardware, standard barcode scanners are designed to read linear or one-dimensional (1D) barcodes, such as UPC codes or Code 128 barcodes, which consist of a series of parallel lines and spaces. These scanners use a laser or LED light source to scan the barcode and decode the information encoded in the lines and spaces.
On the other hand, QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix barcodes that contain information in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions. QR codes use a pattern of squares to represent data, and they can store a variety of data types, including text, URLs, contact information, and more. QR code scanners use image sensors and specialized algorithms to decode the QR code by capturing the pattern of squares.
To read QR codes, you need a QR code scanner or a mobile device with a built-in camera and QR code scanning capabilities. Many smartphones and tablets come with QR code scanning functionality built into their camera apps, allowing users to scan QR codes with ease. So, while a standard barcode scanner is not designed to read QR codes, dedicated QR code scanners or mobile devices can easily do so.
So, what type of codes do barcode readers scan?
Barcode readers are designed to scan and decode various types of barcodes. The specific type of barcode that a barcode reader can scan depends on the scanner’s capabilities and the barcode symbology it supports. Some common types of barcodes that barcode readers can scan include:
- UPC-A and UPC-E: These are standard barcodes used for retail products, often found on grocery items and consumer goods.
- Code 128: A widely used barcode symbology that can encode alphanumeric characters and is used in various industries, including logistics and manufacturing.
- Code 39: Another alphanumeric barcode symbology commonly used in logistics and manufacturing applications.
- EAN-13 and EAN-8: These barcodes are used internationally for product identification, similar to UPC codes.
- QR Code: A 2D matrix barcode that can store various types of data, such as URLs, contact information, and more. QR codes are often used in marketing and mobile applications.
- Data Matrix: Another 2D barcode that can encode a wide range of data types, including text and numerical data. It is often used in industries like healthcare and automotive.
- PDF417: A stacked linear barcode that can encode large amounts of data, making it suitable for applications like driver’s licenses and ID cards.
- Codabar: A numeric barcode symbology used in libraries, blood banks, and some shipping applications.
- ITF-14: A barcode used for marking cartons and pallets in the shipping and logistics industry.
- GS1-128 (formerly known as EAN-128 or UCC-128): A barcode symbology used for supply chain and logistics purposes, incorporating various data formats.
Barcode readers come in various types and form factors, including handheld scanners, fixed-mount scanners, and mobile devices with built-in cameras. The choice of barcode reader and the supported symbologies depend on the specific application and industry requirements. Some barcode readers like the ScanAvenger are versatile and can handle multiple barcode symbologies, while others are designed for specific use cases.