As with all technologies, even common-use ones, barcodes have seen more than their fair share of urban myths and legends surrounding their use and nature. From the seemingly plausible to the overwhelmingly farfetched, these myths cover a range of topics from how widely they are used to whether or not they are a symbol of the Christian Devil. Here are five barcode scanning myths debunked.
Barcodes Show Place of Origin
This is a patently false statement. UPC codes can sometimes identify the location of a company’s headquarters, but it almost never reflects the manufacturing or distribution centers of that company, according to Versatile Mobile Systems. Even reflecting the headquarters’ location in the UPC code is hardly useful; after all, you can just google it.
Looking Into a Scanner Can Blind You
Barcode scanners utilize LED lights, which many people believe can make you go blind. While it’s true that constant exposure to artificial light – especially blue LED lights – can harm your vision or at the very least cause headaches and vertigo, it would take an exceptionally long time of staring directly into an LED scanner in order to cause any injury at all. However, looking at LED scanners certainly cannot cause blindness.
QR Codes are a Dying Market
While it’s true that QR codes are used less than traditional barcodes, this new method of scanning shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. QR codes aren’t just used for scanning products – they are also used for everything from connecting to a company’s website at trade shows to audience participation in live performances using QR codes to trigger media loops. They certainly represent a smaller market, but they are by no means dying.
They’re Associated with Satan
This is a long-standing urban legend that has frustrated a great many people. The myth, generated by a couple of off-hand jokes and random happenstances, states that hidden in the barcode are three sixes – 666, of course, being the Number of the Beast in the Revelation book of the Bible. The inventor of the bar code, Joe Woodland, saw its design perfected by George Laurer – who, having six letters in each of his first, middle, and last names, has been haunted to tears by insistent claims that he is a servant of the Devil and that his barcode design was meant to sway the righteous over to the will of Satan.
It goes without saying that this is an example of humans assigning meaning where none really exists, and Laurer has been quoted as saying this phenomenon is “ludicrous.”
Some Merch Can’t Be Barcoded
Short of actual animals – including humans, while we’re on the subject – literally anything can be barcoded, whether it’s printed on a box or a sticker that you then slap onto a bar of soap, a box of crackers – literally anything. If thinking that some merchandise can’t be barcoded is what’s holding you back from making the switch to a scanning system for your business, this is one worry you can put to rest.
As with any technology old or new, barcodes are surrounded by myths generated by those who simply don’t understand how they function or what is involved with creating and scanning them. And since most people are highly suspicious of what they don’t understand, such urban legends – the 666 myth being one of the more notorious – spread rapidly even to those who may be more critical thinkers than the myth’s progenitors. In the meantime, the aforementioned urban myths surrounded barcodes can be safely laid to rest in the minds of all – including yours.