When you pick up a boarding pass, it has many of your personal details splashed all over it. But the innocuous-looking barcode contains an even richer seam of information about your travel plans and habits — and it may pay to keep it hidden away from prying eyes.
Tagged With barcodes
When George Laurer goes to the grocery store, he doesn't tell the check-out people that he invented the barcode, but his wife used to point it out. "My husband here's the one who invented that barcode," she'd occasionally say. And the checkout people would look at him like, "You mean there was a time when we didn't have barcodes?"
The scene: your girlfriend and/or boyfriend got you tickets to The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. You've been waiting your whole life to see those goats up close, so, naturally, you want to post pictures of your beloved gift on Facebook, rubbing it in all your friends' rodeo-less faces. Here's a tip: don't. Because someone will steal it.
QR codes are a technology that desperately wants our attention. They appear everywhere from supermarket shelves and magazines to hiking trails and tombstones. Never heard of a QR code? You're looking at one right now. Scan the image at the top of this article, and it will open a link to the mobile version... of this article. Very meta.
I loathe self-service checkouts at supermarkets. Not because I want to hang around there for the fun of it, but simply because they're so incredibly inefficient, especially if you're dealing with items that never had barcodes, such as fruit and vegetables. A new scanner from Toshiba might fix my woes, as it omits barcodes and just works out what it is you're holding in front of it.
Besides the elderly gentleman paying in gold coins, the biggest holdup at supermarket checkouts is the cashier finding an item's barcode and properly scanning. So Toshiba has developed a faster camera-based system that recognises the food, packaged or fresh.
Ignore the overwrought, coming-of-age-type soundtrack and you'll see a rather neat idea: a musical instrument that plays music by "reading" barcodes. The Barcode Piano consists of tiles and a board. Each tile is associated with a number which triggers a certain tune. You can arrange the tiles in preset songs or any random way you'd like.
True story: When I'm out shopping, before I make an impulse buy, I compulsively check what Product X goes for on Amazon. I know, I know, there are barcode scanning apps that I could use to price-compare. But Amazon's consistently as or less expensive than just about anywhere, and more importantly, I trust them as a vendor.