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Barcode Glossary

Active reader: Scanners and barcode readers that use reflective light to decode barcodes.

AIAG: Responsible for the automotive barcode symbology standard. Stands for the Automotive Industry Action Group (General Motors, American Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Volkswagen—U.S.)

Aperture: Beam size that reads barcodes.

Auto-discrimination:  How barcode readers tell one symbology from another so that they can decode them.

Barcode: One-dimensional arrays of thin and thinner lines and spaces that hold below 30 characters of information.

Barcode label: A label containing a barcode that it affixed to something.

Barcode reader: A barcode reader scans and decodes the information contained in a barcode.

Barcode symbology: One of over 300 classes of barcode characters. The symbols scanned from a barcode are checked against a table of characters and decoded. 

Bernard Silver: Drexel Institute of Technology, Philadelphia, graduate student whose eavesdropping laid the foundation for barcodes along with Norman Woodland.
Code 39: One of the most common bar code symbologies.

Decoder: The electronic devices that scan barcodes, interprets the data and provides a meaningful interface to tangent devices.

DENSO Wave, Incorporated: The Japanese company that invented the Quick Response or QR code in 1994. Originally used for automotive purposes.

Density: The amount of characters that a barcode can hold.

Field of Focus: Also called depth of field—the amount of length between the closest and farthest points that barcodes scan. 

Height: The y-axis of a barcode—the vertical measurement.

Matrix: A two-dimensional barcode, known as a QR code. It is considered two-dimensional since data can be read horizontally and vertically by a scanner.

Microchip: Used in radio frequency identification tags in conjunction with a tiny antenna to relay information from a distance to a receiver.

Near Field Communication: Information that can be transmitted by smart device touch.

Numeric: A symbology consisting only of numbers.  

OCR: Optical Character Reader

Passive Reader: Scanners that human hands use to scan a barcode.

PDT: Stands for Portable Data Terminal. This is a scanner that takes information and relays it to a computer from a “cradle.”

Print Contrast: The difference between the barcodes bars, spaces and reflected light. 

QR Code: Also known as Quick-Response Code. A two-dimensional matrix that can encode URLs, Text, SMS or video.

Quiet Zone: The area of a barcode that has no encoded data.  

Reader: A scanner that decodes barcodes, usually by criss-crossed lasers.

Reflectivity: Light reflected back from the printed barcode’s surface.

Resolution:  Size of a reflected spot of light.

RFID Tags: Radio frequency identification tag. Carries code unique to its item, animal or person.

Scanner: Same as barcode reader.  

Start/Stop Characters: Characters that tell scanners where a barcode begins and ends.

UPC: Universal Product Code. Used in the United States as a grocery and retail barcode.

Width: The x-axis of a barcode or the horizontal measurement (width).

Norman Woodland: Arguably, with Bernard Silver, the father of the barcode (U.S. Patent 2,612,994).