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Stretching the barcode for maximum efficiency | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Stretching the barcode for maximum efficiency

barcode length

475

It’s kind of unpredictable where I’ll find things that should be noted on design. One day it’s on the street, the next day it’s at grocery store like Trader Joes. I noticed that the loaf of whole wheat bread that I bought had a stretched barcode (though as Matthew Waldman pointed out, it’s “tall” because the bars in a bar code go vertical over the numbers [if u read it] but scanners are omnidirectional now so both ways to look at it are plausible. You would scan perpendicular to the lines though) Either way, the size of the barcode has been increased—I can only guess that it’s not because a designer thought it would look cool, but by giving the scanner more opportunity to pick up the information, my exchange at the cash register is going to finish faster. Over time that scales, the waiting lines decrease and more things can be bought in a particular time frame. I also noticed on the diagram that I “borrowed” from the web and enhanced it with colour that there’s a temperature setting for maximum performance. It would be interesting to know what the magic temperature is to make lines flow faster (as another side note). Technology and efficiency being maximized to increase profit which is what the barcode was meant to do. I wonder if there’s anything else to be deduced from this size increase, and what can we throw this kind of design thinking on that’s not a barcode to increase efficiencies?

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  • http://mikebingaman.com bingaman

    I've noticed this at Aldi as well. (Aldi owns Trader Joe's, if you didn't know). They will actually also have barcodes on every side of a box (front, back, one giant one down a whole side, top, bottom) I also presume for MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY.