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9 Interesting Barcode Use Cases For Linear and QR Barcodes

by Matthew Kostanecki | Last Updated: March 2nd, 2022 | Barcoding | 21 comments

Barcodes are generally used to help track inventory, but there are many more possibilities and interesting ways to use them. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the more creative barcode use cases for both linear and 2D barcodes (e.g. QR codes).

Events, travel, and movies

Some of the more common modern barcode use cases can be seen in travel and events. Admission tickets for movie theaters and other events use barcodes to uniquely identify and verify the validity of the ticket before the customer can enter the theater or the event. They’re also used to count sales generated from the event, and makes it a lot more convenient to keep track of revenue. Sometimes it even costs less for event organizers because they don’t have to spend money producing actual tickets. Those who want to attend the event or watch the show can print the barcode anywhere and present it upon arrival at the venue, or just show a digital copy of the ticket using their smartphone. 

Similarly, anyone who has traveled in recent years (whether it’s on a train, plane, or bus), knows that travel companies are taking full advantage of QR code technology. These companies have traded in complicated and time consuming check-ins by simply providing their passengers with a digital boarding pass. As a customer you can either just download the pass onto your phone and show it upon arrival or print it out. The choice is yours.

Barcode use case at an airport. A QR code being presented on a smart phone.


Advertisers are taking advantage of barcodes by using them to reach out to customers in a more interactive, interesting, and unique way. With the use of a smartphone, all you need to do is take a picture of any 2D barcode, more commonly known as a QR code. From there you can discover a lot more information about the product being advertised. These barcode use cases are being adopted by more and more companies as they see the value it can add to their marketing efforts.

Barcode use case in advertising. QR code being scanned in a magazine.

QR codes, like the one above are starting to pop up everywhere, and you’ve probably wondered why. What makes them so different from the traditional linear barcode? Well, the QR code is capable of storing more information (and languages). Since these barcodes usually contain uniform resource locators (URLs) the possible use cases are endless.

While it’s still gaining popularity in North America, the use of QR codes has been very popular in Japan for a while now. Which makes a lot of sense since that’s where they were invented. They have QR codes almost everywhere: retail stores, fast food chains, and train stations.

Barcode use case in a food court. QR code next to a product.

Japan’s use of these barcodes is actually pretty creative, and also provides a lot of help since some of them contain information about your location, direction, and contact information. After the 2011 earthquake and Tsunami, QR codes were especially helpful in spreading information about how to donate to the relief efforts [So barcodes are useful for disaster relief; might want to pitch that to the government…].


One of the more unique barcode use cases we’ve seen is in gaming. Games that needed the use of barcodes have been around since the 90s. So consoles created specifically for scanning barcodes started springing up on the scene. You may have heard of a console called Skannerz, released in 2000. The general premise was to capture monsters by scanning them and then battling with other players.

Today we see companies like Nintendo utilizing QR codes to send images captured on their Switch console to the players’ smartphones. This makes the process of sending and sharing their favorite gaming moments much more simple and seamless.

Tracking food intake

There are actually some apps that help you keep track of the food you eat through barcodes. All you have to do is take a picture of the barcode on the food you’re eating, and the app will use the nutrition information indicated on the item to track your food intake. It’s actually pretty convenient, and you’d have a more detailed food diary.

Barcode being used to track calorie intake using an app.

Art and pop culture

Many artists and architects are getting inspiration from barcodes. This building in St. Petersburg, Russia was designed with the linear (traditional) barcode in mind:

We see barcodes being used in pop culture as well. In Universal’s 1985 hit movie Back to The Future they swapped out the license plate of the Delorean for barcodes! Even the set designers back then knew barcodes were the way of the future.

Tracking products

Just because you have a very small product doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a creative way to track it using barcodes. Tootsie Pops have barcodes on their sticks!

Barcoding in your business?

Want to know more about how you can set up a barcoding system in your business? Download your copy of Barcode Your Small Business for free. It will show you step by step on how you can set up a complete system for your business. Or you can checkout our barcode glossary for a quick overview of some of the most widely used acronyms in the world of barcoding.

Looking for the world’s easiest to use barcode scanner?

We sell barcode scanners too! If you’re scanning in a stationary place and don’t want to worry about battery life we offer a USB barcode scanner. Simply plug it in and you’re good to go!  But if you need something with mobility we recommend grabbing one of our new Smart Scanners. It’s an android device with a built- in laser scanner. We even sell accessories for the Smart Scanner like a pistol grip, grip case, and extra batteries. Both of these will scan almost all 1D barcodes such as UPCs, EANs, Code 3 of 9, Code 128 and much more.

The inFlow Smart Scanner in action.
Matthew Kostanecki

Matthew Kostanecki

Matthew Kostanecki is speaker, author, and active contributor to the small business community. He leads the marketing and business development for inFlow Inventory.


  1. Vallisha

    Explain what is barcode

    • Thomas Wong

      Hi Vallisha, at their core, barcodes are quick ways for you to recall item information without having to type it into the computer.
      For more info, I’d suggest taking a look at our Barcoding 101 article for another overview of barcodes:

      – Thomas

  2. Arlyn Anderson

    Great article. Thanks! I’m looking for a way to track that an independent contractor has been to a site that they are sent to. Normally, the contractor (interpreters, in this case) have to have a worksheet signed and then scan and email or mail it back to the my client’s company.

    Do you have any creative ideas for how a bar code on an ID badge could register the person was present and send that information back to my client’s company?

    I thought it was worth it to ask. They are trying to go greener and have their contractors go through fewer hoops.

    • Thomas Wong

      Hi Arlyn,

      Unfortunately I don’t have any specific programs in mind that would help contractors log in, but I’m sure they must exist.
      Each contractor would need to be assigned a badge with a unique barcode on it. And the software would have to be able to tie that barcode back to a registered contractor’s name in a database, and also record the time and location of the scan.
      That way, every scan would record: contractor name, location of scan, and time.

      You could then filter that record to see how long a contractor was on site, which sites they visited in a given period, etc. I’d recommend searching the web for security systems and barcoded or scannable IDs, as those workflows probably go together.

      Good luck with the search!

  3. Razeen

    Salute for yours effort….

  4. Pat Ryan

    Hi is there a system for the following?
    Can we print a shipping label prior to picking that has the product ID and our warehouse inventory location, that can? be set up within the bar-code.
    We scan the above label into a hand held scanner the screen then directs picker to the location of product, picker scans the bar-code at the location that verifies or not the product Id matches what has been ordered.
    We presently use a manual system one person picks another person verifies.
    Thank you
    Pat Ryan

  5. Lageerthana

    In wifi router, with the barcode reader can we use the wifi ?

    • Thomas Wong

      Hi Lageerthana, most standalone barcode scanners don’t use Wifi, but rather Bluetooth or a wireless USB dongle/adapter (which you attach to your computer).
      However there are some Windows and Android devices that have barcode scanners attached — those could use Wifi to communicate. Zebra is one of the big popular brands that makes smart devices with attached scanners.

  6. matthew

    who uses bar code and how does it work

  7. Rick

    There are 650 members in our club and we maintain their records in an Excel file as our roster. Each member has an an ID (i.e. 123-AB). Once a year they submit a form to pay their dues. Their form includes a code 39 barcode of their ID. I would like to use a barcode scanner to scan the barcode on their form and have my Excel file automatically highlight that member’s row in the roster. How do I do that?

  8. Richard Estermyer

    We do car shows and was wondering IF the use of bar codes would be possible to use? One area is our photographer. Is it possible to put a barcode on the registrations that would allow him to scan the registration for and have all the info of the cars owner tracked to correspond with the picture being taken?

    Also with a national show coming up, possible the same can be used with registration there, where not only folks have their personal information and car info. But would also be buying banquet tickets, show shirts, etc. Being that each entrant would have different selections.

    I see where I can get the scanners above, where would I go to find the program to create the bar codes for the registrations? Thanks for your time and help!

    Great Lakes Classic AMC Club

  9. Rita Boerger

    Bar Code 640990…what can you tell me about this bar code?

  10. Mlambwende

    I wanna buy one I am in Africa.

  11. Paul Robison

    Dear Matthew,

    I’m a teacher and thinking of barcoding high school students’ papers for identification. What’s the most cost effective way to do this? I downloaded you free guide. Thanks for it. With kindest regards, Paul Robison, Brentwood Christian School, Austin, TX.

    • Thomas

      Hi Paul, you could either use an online barcode generator or just create scannable barcodes yourself with our free barcode font:
      The font could be pretty flexible because if your students submit their papers as .doc files, you could literally type into them using the barcode font to add a barcode to the resulting printout.

  12. Ramu

    Can i check if the item is genuine or not wth the bar code scanner?

    • Thomas

      We wouldn’t recommend scanning as a way of checking if an item is genuine, but rather as a replacement for typing out item names.

  13. Steven

    My wife does live online selling of food products that comes from the Philippines. Can you use a bar code scanner to scan a customer ID from a list then scan a product one or more times to put that product into her inventory list. Then scan another customer ID to make a new inventory of the same or different product. And also go back to that first customer to add to that list later to continue that persons inventory list? I would like software that not only keep track of 50 ish different orders and shows there orders summaries them at the end of the night. What goes in their box, and what supplies you have so you don’t over sell.

    • Jared Plumb

      Hey Steven,

      While inFlow can make use of barcodes for picking, receiving, stock checking, and a number of other functions, the specific workflow you’re talking about isn’t something we currently do. You may need point-of-sale (POS) software for something like this. I’ll pass along this workflow to our development team and we’ll see what we can do about adding some sort of functionality in the future.

      Hope this helps,


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