A barcode is an optical, machine-readable, representation of data; the data usually describes something about the object that carries the barcode. Traditional barcodes systematically represent data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional (1D). Later, two-dimensional (2D) variants were developed, using rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns, called matrix codes or 2D barcodes, although they do not use bars as such. Initially, barcodes were only scanned by special optical scanners called barcode readers. Barcode printing industry evolved later and it leads to the birth of application software developed for devices that could read images, such as smartphones with cameras.
Barcodes such as the UPC have become a ubiquitous element of modern civilization, as evidenced by their enthusiastic adoption by stores around the world; most items other than fresh produce from a grocery store now have UPC barcodes. This helps track items and also reduces instances of shoplifting involving price tag swapping.
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