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Interesting Barcode Use Cases For Linear and QR Barcodes

Posted by Matthew KostaneckiLast Updated February 28th, 2024
— 6 minutes reading

Generally speaking, you use barcodes to help track inventory and assets, but there are many more possibilities and interesting ways you can use them. In this post, we’ll look at some of the more creative barcode use cases for both linear and 2D barcodes (e.x. QR codes).

If you’re more interested in how you can get started barcoding your small business, check out our Ultimate Barcoding Guide. It covers everything barcode-related.

Events, travel, and movies

In travel and events, you can see some of the more common modern barcode use cases. Admission tickets for movie theaters and other events use barcodes to uniquely identify and verify the ticket’s validity before the customer can enter the theater or the event. They’re also used to count sales generated from the event, making it much more convenient to track 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 on a train, plane, or bus, knows that travel companies are taking full advantage of QR codes. These companies have traded in complicated and time-consuming check-ins by providing their passengers with a digital boarding pass. As a customer, you can 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 using barcodes to reach out to customers in a more interactive, engaging, and unique way. With a smartphone, you only need to take a picture of any 2D barcode, more commonly known as a QR code. Then from there, you can discover more information about the advertised product. More and more companies are adopting these barcode use cases as they see the value it can add to their marketing efforts.

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

Like the one above, QR codes 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 can store 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, QR codes have been prevalent 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 pretty creative and provides a lot of help since some 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; you should pitch that to the government!

Medical tracking

In recent years the medical industry has widely adopted barcodes, specifically QR codes. Patients who are admitted into a hospital are issued a wristband with a unique barcode containing their name and other identifying information. Healthcare providers can scan these barcodes to quickly access medical records and ensure they administer the correct treatment.

Barcodes also play a significant role in the management of medications. Using barcodes, health professionals can track medications from the pharmacy to the patient’s bedside table. They can use them from there to provide information about dosage, expiration date, and even lot numbers.

Doctors are even using barcodes to ensure the safety and security of blood transfusions by connecting the information and blood type of donors to a barcode. Before a transfusion, the barcode on the patient’s wristband is scanned to confirm they receive the correct blood type. 


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.

Barcode use case in gaming. A skannerz device.

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

Tracking food intake

Some apps 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. Without a doubt, it’s 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. For example 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! In this case, even the set designers knew barcodes were the way of the future.


Tracking tiny products

Even if you have a very small product, you can still 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 how to set up a complete system for your business. Or you can check out our barcode glossary for a quick overview of some of the most widely used acronyms in the world of barcoding.

Barcode scanners for your business

We sell barcode scanners too! We offer a USB barcode scanner if you’re scanning in a stationary place and don’t want to worry about battery life. Hence, you 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 will scan almost all 1D barcodes, such as UPCs, EANs, Code 3 of 9, Code 128, and more.

But what good is all that hardware without actual barcodes? Well, good news! We recently partnered with GS1 US to create our inFlow GTIN Barcode Shop, where you can buy official GS1 barcodes. The process is super simple and you pay only $30 per barcode with no renewal fee.

The inFlow Smart Scanner in action.

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