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9 Interesting Barcode Use Cases For Linear and QR Barcodes

Posted by Matthew KostaneckiLast Updated December 13th, 2022
— 6 minutes reading

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).

If you’re interested in an in-depth look at how you can get started barcoding your small business be sure to checkout our Ultimate Barcoding Guide. It covers absolutely everything barcode related.

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.

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 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.
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