User:Anthony Salvagno/Notebook/Research/2010/03/19/QR Codes and Barcode Scanning

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Overall Purpose

I have discussed this with Koch and Bill Flanagan before. My main purpose for wanting to use barcodes in the lab is to acquire a history of the object being scanned. A specific application for me would be to have barcodes on various supplies I would use like reagents, enzymes, eppendorf tubes, etc. Every time I want to use an item I first scan it and the barcode would contain various information. Info it could contain is a link to a website (my notebook for instance) and maybe a little description. In that very notebook entry could be a spreadsheet of times scanned. The first scan would indicate first use, creation date, arrival date, etc. So basically your scanner keeps track of what barcodes it has scanned and the time it was scanned. This information could be fed to a spreadsheet or a database or something.

Koch has other ideas that go along with this which hopefully he could detail here.

So it seems there are two key elements to this process. The first is the barcode creation ie what information you want stored. The second would be retaining information about scanned barcodes. Time stamping shouldn't be too difficult to include/extract from scanners.

Making a 2D Barcode

Provided is a quick search of qr codes (the 2D barcode).

There is a specific format for how you can include USABLE information in a barcode. You can have a barcode just contain random information like a sentence or something, but that's no fun. Actually it could be. Scan code below for a fun message:

The code knows all! Anyways, this is very valuable information. Some of the things you can embed in a qr code are:

  1. plain text
  2. url
  3. contact info
  4. email address

Those are just some of the things. I will definitely make a contact info code very soon to be uploaded to my user page here, my blog, and eventually my website when that gets put up. Here is my contact information for scientists:

Scanning the Barcode

To scan the barcode you need a scanner. Most cell cameras have the ability to be used in such a manner and just require some software. There is some good free stuff out there. I downloaded Barcode Scanner (very clever) from ZXing (some folks who work at google) which can read both 1d and 2d barcodes. I know also of ShopSaavy which is available on both iphone and android phones. It too is free. As far as information I've gathered. For 2-d codes, Barcode Scanner is better, but when you are product shopping you'd probably want ShopSaavy. Anyways that isn't for me to debate.

Simply put in order to scan for barcodes, you need a barcode scanner. There are some great apps already out there, and since the ZXing code is open source, you could make your own.

Gathering Information

I know almost no information about this. I'm assuming I'd need to either customize some coding to provide me with scan information or I could email the Barcode Scanner people to find out if they have anything or could do something that could help me out. Short term would be to email and if that's a bust then customize it is. You can find their info and the programs for download here.