12 QR Code Alternatives that You Can Use

Gunel Ismayilova

Mar 06, 2024

12 min read

QR Code Alternatives

Jab codes, PDF417, Aztec codes, Data matrix, NFC tags, Snaptags, image recognition, Bluetooth beacons, Microsoft tags, Google goggles, Maxicodes, and RDIF are alternatives to QR codes.

Switching from QR code alternatives to other technologies is prompted by data capacity limitations, appearance limitations, security concerns, and internet dependence.

JAB Code has the largest capacity among QR code alternatives because it uses 4 or 8 colors, allowing for higher data density than traditional QR codes' binary black-and-white nature. NFC is a much safer alternative to QR codes. NFC’s short-range communication, encryption protocols, and authentication support reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

To select the appropriate QR code alternative, follow the steps: define the data type, assess data capacity with options like Data Matrix, PDF417, Jab codes, or Aztec codes, verify scan device compatibility, adhere to industry standards, consider global recognition, evaluate printing requirements and durability, assess integration with systems, conduct a comprehensive cost analysis, plan for scalability, and consider the ease of decoding for optimal performance in specific conditions.

1. JAB CodeJAB code

JAB Code, or "Just Another Barcode," is a 2D (two-dimensional) matrix symbology developed by the Fraunhofer Institute SIT (Secure Information Technology). It's characterized by its unique use of colored squares arranged in a grid pattern, offering either 4 or 8 colors for data representation. The 4 primary colors used are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, with a secondary set including blue, red, green, and white. A primary JAB Code symbol includes four finder patterns at corners to facilitate accurate decoding. The open-source nature of JAB Code, released under the LGPL v2.1 license, allows for accessibility and customization by developers and organizations.

JAB Code's data capacity depends on the chosen color depth. A 4-color JAB Code stores twice as much data as a traditional black-and-white barcode, while an 8-color version holds three times as much data in the same space. Encoding and decoding JAB codes require specialized software or libraries. Users create JAB codes by inputting the data and selecting the desired color scheme. A compatible barcode scanner or smartphone app that supports JAB Code decoding is required to read JAB Codes.

JAB Code's advantages include its high data capacity due to color usage, versatility for various applications, and its open-source nature. However, it faces challenges, including limited recognition and adoption compared to QR codes, which are more common and standardized in various industries. JAB Code is still emerging as a standard, and its compatibility remains a concern, although numerous devices and apps widely recognize and support QR codes.

JAB Code finds applications in digitally signing encrypted versions of printed legal documents, contracts, certificates, and medical prescriptions and providing product authenticity assurance to combat counterfeiting. The use of color and enhanced data storage capacity of JAB Code make it suitable for scenarios requiring extensive data storage, as opposed to QR codes, which are predominantly monochromatic. However, QR codes remain more familiar and accessible for everyday applications.

2. PDF417PDF417

PDF417, or Portable Data File 417, is a 2D stacked linear barcode format with widespread applications across diverse industries, including transportation, identification cards, and inventory management. The name "PDF417" derives from its structure, where "PDF" signifies Portable Data File, and "417" symbolizes that each pattern within the code consists of four bars and spaces, and it spans 17 units (modules) in length. Developed by Dr. Ynjiun P. Wang at Symbol Technologies in 1991, PDF417 is defined in ISO 15438.

PDF417 boasts a set of features that enhance its versatility. PDF417 links to other symbols, allowing for sequential scanning and expanded data storage. Users specify bar width and row height dimensions, offering customization options. A notable feature is its status as a public domain format, enabling anyone to implement it without licensing.

The data capacity of PDF417 varies based on factors such as the size of the barcode and the data encoding mode used. It's known for its ability to store substantial amounts of data, making it suitable for applications that require extensive information storage.

Specialized barcode encoding and decoding software or libraries are required to use PDF417. Users input the data and choose the appropriate encoding mode. Reading PDF417 barcodes necessitates compatible barcode scanners or smartphone apps capable of PDF417 decoding.

PDF417 offers several advantages. The code’s high data capacity makes it an excellent choice for applications with extensive data storage needs. PDF417 finds use in various sectors, including transportation, identification cards, and inventory management. The support for different encoding modes facilitates efficient representation of diverse data types. PDF417 operates as a public domain format, eliminating the need for licensing, which can reduce implementation costs.

PDF417 does have some limitations. The code requires more space than 2D barcodes, resulting in more prominent symbols. Consequently, it is not the best choice for applications with limited space. PDF417 is not as widely recognized and used as QR codes in everyday applications, affecting accessibility and adoption.

PDF417 is currently used in a variety of applications, such as printing postage for the United States Postal Service, serving as the standard 2D barcode for paper boarding passes in the airline industry, and being employed for RealID-compliant driver licenses and state-issued identification cards by the Department of Homeland Security. It is utilized on visas and border crossing cards issued by the State of Israel.

PDF417 is known for its higher data capacity but requires more space, resulting in larger symbols than QR codes. QR codes are more compact and versatile. QR codes enjoy broader recognition and adoption in various industries and applications, making them more accessible for everyday use. QR codes store different data types in a single code, offering flexibility for multiple applications.

3. Aztec codeAztec code

Aztec code is an alternative to a QR code developed by Andrew Longacre, Jr. and Robert Hussey in 1995. It is recognized for its distinctive central finder pattern, which resembles an Aztec pyramid. The code was initially patented but is now part of the public domain and an ISO/IEC standard (ISO/IEC 24778:2008).

One of the defining features of the Aztec code is the efficient use of space. Unlike some matrix barcodes, the Aztec code doesn't require a blank "quiet zone" surrounding it. The efficient use of space makes it a compelling choice for various applications.

The data capacity of the Aztec code varies based on the size and layers of the code. The data capacity ranges from relatively small codes like 15x15 to larger, more intricate ones like 151x151 pixels. The capacity depends on the number of layers and encodes significant data, including digits, letters, or bytes. Aztec code typically involves encoding data into the pattern and decoding it using specialized software or barcode readers. The code's versatility in accommodating different data types, including text and numbers, makes it suitable for various applications.

Aztec code offers several advantages, including its efficient use of space and the ability to encode a substantial amount of data. The code doesn't require a surrounding blank zone, a significant advantage for applications with limited space. Aztec code is adaptable for displays on mobile devices, making it convenient for mobile applications.

The Aztec code is not as widely recognized and used as QR codes. QR codes have become more ubiquitous in everyday applications, from scanning links to making payments. QR codes are known as versatile codes and are often preferred for familiarity.

Aztec codes are currently used in various industries and applications. Aztec codes are famous for transport ticketing systems and have been adopted by the airline industry for electronic boarding passes. Many airlines send Aztec codes to passengers' mobile devices as part of mobile check-in procedures. Aztec codes are used in the rail industry for online ticketing, allowing customers to print tickets or display the tickets on mobile screens.

Aztec codes are space-efficient, making them ideal for applications with limited space compared with QR codes. QR codes are more widely recognized and adopted, making QR codes a common choice for everyday applications, from scanning product information to accessing websites. The versatility of QR codes accommodates various data types, such as URLs, contact information, and more.

4. Data MatrixData Matrix code

A Data Matrix is a two-dimensional barcode or matrix code that is a compact and efficient means of encoding various types of information. The Data Matrix codes are composed of black and white cells or dots, similar to QR codes, arranged in a square or rectangular matrix pattern, with the data represented through the arrangement of the cells.

One of the distinctive features of Data Matrix is the ability to store data in a space-efficient manner. The symbols are versatile and encode information in text or numeric data. Depending on the specific coding, a "light" cell represents a 0, while a "dark" cell represents a 1, or vice versa. The binary encoding provides a flexible way to store data efficiently.

Data Matrix symbols come in various sizes, ranging from 10x10 to 144x144 in the ECC 200 version and 9x9 to 49x49 in the older ECC 000-140 version. The scalability enables the Data Matrix to accommodate different data sizes while maintaining readability.

Data Matrix requires a barcode reader app or dedicated scanning equipment. The readers interpret the black and white cells in the Data Matrix and decode the encoded information, text, numbers, or any data initially encoded into the symbol.

One of the advantages of Data Matrix is the space efficiency. The code encodes significant data in a small area, making it suitable for marking small items and efficient data storage. Data Matrix code offers robust error correction capabilities, ensuring data integrity even if some cells are damaged.

Data Matrix has found applications in various fields. The code is commonly used for marking small electronic components, allowing manufacturers to label products with compact, machine-readable codes. Data Matrix codes are used for tracking purposes, such as parcel tracking in the logistics industry in printed format. Data Matrix codes are employed in the food industry to prevent packaging and date errors. Data Matrix codes have even found artistic applications, with examples of large-scale field mosaics and animated tattoos.

A notable difference between Data Matrix and QR codes is the appearance. Data Matrix codes typically have a square or rectangular layout of black and white cells, while QR codes are black squares arranged on a white background in a two-dimensional grid. Both codes offer efficient data encoding, but QR codes are often more recognizable and popular for general-purpose use, like website links, social media addresses, and more. Data Matrix excels when space is limited, making it a preferred choice for industries like electronics and logistics.

5. NFC tagsNFC tags

NFC (Near-Field Communication) tags, or NFC stickers or labels, are small, wireless, and passive devices that store data and communicate with NFC-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets, and some modern laptops. NFC tags bridge the physical and digital worlds, allowing for convenient information exchange, automation, and interaction with just a simple tap. NFC tags come in various shapes and sizes, usually adhesive stickers or key fobs. The stickers are embedded with an NFC chip that stores data and is read by compatible devices. NFC tags have become famous for simplicity and versatility, making the codes suitable for various applications.

The storage capacity of NFC tags varies depending on the specific tag model, with capacities generally ranging from 64 bytes to 4 kilobytes. The capacity seems limited compared to other storage solutions, but it is sufficient for storing URLs, contact information, Wi-Fi network credentials, or other small data snippets.

Using NFC tags is remarkably straightforward. An NFC scanner or application is needed to interact with an NFC tag. The device reads and processes data stored on the tag when it is within close proximity (usually 4 cm or less) of the tag and initiates an NFC action, such as tapping or hovering over it. The device's electromagnetic field powers the NFC chip embedded in the tag. The action triggers various functions, like opening a URL, configuring device settings, or launching apps, depending on how the tag has been programmed.

The pros of NFC tags lie in convenience and versatility. The NFC tags offer a quick and effortless way to exchange information or automate tasks, making the NFC tags ideal for applications like contactless payment, access control, and smart home automation. NFC tags are customized to suit different purposes, and the read range is intentionally limited, enhancing security.

NFC tags have some limitations. The tags require close proximity (1 cm) for communication, which is both an advantage (for security) and a disadvantage (as users need to tap or get very close physically). Compatibility is crucial, as not all devices are equipped with NFC technology. NFC tags store only small amounts of data, limiting the use of more extensive information storage.

NFC tags are currently used in various industries and applications. The tags are commonly used for mobile payments, smart posters, contactless access control systems, and sharing data like Wi-Fi network credentials and contact information. NFC tags are integrated into product packaging for easy access to product information. NFC tags are widely used in smart homes for automation tasks, like turning on lights or setting a specific mode when you tap the smartphone on a tag.

NFC tags and QR codes facilitate interactions between the physical and digital worlds. NFC tags offer advantages in terms of security, as the tags require close physical proximity for interaction. NFC tags and different QR codes allow for more customized and dynamic functions. QR codes are accessible to anyone with a compatible app and camera but are considered less secure. The choice between NFC tags and QR codes depends on the specific use case and the level of security and interactivity required.

6. SnapTagsSnaptag

SnapTag is a unique 2D mobile barcode solution introduced by SpyderLynk that distinguishes itself from traditional QR codes through its unique and innovative design. SnapTags employs a distinctive approach by incorporating an icon or company logo at the center, encircled by a code ring, instead of the conventional black square pattern of QR codes. The visual identity offers brands a creative and customizable way to engage with consumers.

SnapTags share similar functionalities with QR codes but extend capabilities further. SnapTags direct consumers to a brand's website just like scanable QR codes, but SnapTags have much more potential. SnapTags facilitate mobile purchases, support coupon downloads, enable free sample requests, initiate video views, allow entry into promotional campaigns, and encourage interactions such as Facebook likes, Pinterest pins, Twitter follows, posts, and tweets. Brands gain valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences through SnapTags' ability to mine data on the backend.

SnapTags are compatible with widely used mobile operating systems. Snaptags are easily accessed by users of Google's Android OS and iOS devices like iPhones, iPods, and iPads through the dedicated SnapTag Reader App or third-party apps that have integrated the SnapTag Reader SDK. The seamless integration ensures a user-friendly experience and access to the numerous functionalities that SnapTags offers.

SnapTags are able to store a range of data, including URLs, text, and commands similar to QR codes. The capacity largely depends on the design and complexity of the SnapTag, with more intricate designs potentially having less storage space.

The pros of SnapTags include the visually appealing and customizable design, which helps brands stand out and leave a memorable impression on consumers. Snaptags offer a wide array of engagement options and support data mining, aiding in understanding customer behavior.

There are some cons to consider. SnapTags require users to download a dedicated app or integrate third-party apps for full functionality, which may present a barrier to entry for some consumers. The distinctive design of SnapTags is not as widely recognized or understood as traditional QR codes, which affects user adoption.

SnapTags are used by brands and marketers to engage with consumers in unique ways. SnapTags are employed for advertising, marketing campaigns, and promotional activities to drive traffic to websites and online content. The tags offer an alternative and creative approach to consumer interaction and data collection compared to QR codes. The visually appealing designs of SnapTags and improved user engagement options make Snaptags more distinctive than QR codes, although QR codes are more universally recognized. The choice between SnapTags and QR codes depends mainly on a brand's specific marketing goals and preferences.

7. Image recognitionGoole lens

Image recognition, often referred to as computer vision, is a technology that enables computers to interpret and understand visual information from images or videos, similar to how humans perceive and recognize objects in the real world. The powerful technology has numerous features that make it valuable in various applications.

The capacity of image recognition is vast and dependent on the sophistication of the underlying algorithms and the computational resources available. Image recognition identifies and classifies objects, people, text, and scenes within images and videos. Image recognition extracts textual information from images, performs facial recognition, analyzes sentiment, and detects anomalies or alterations. The storage capacity is unlimited since it is not constrained by the physical limitations of a code or tag, like QR codes.

Systems that recognize images typically combine hardware and software components. Specialized cameras or devices capture images or videos, and the data is then processed by algorithms designed to recognize patterns, objects, or text within the visual content. Users interact with image recognition technology through dedicated applications, including augmented reality apps, security systems, e-commerce platforms, or social media apps enabling facial tagging. Image recognition is integrated into existing software and services, allowing for automated image analysis, content tagging, and more.

The advantages of image recognition technology are numerous. Image recognition provides a deeper context and understanding, enabling more sophisticated automation and decision-making. Image recognition offers valuable insights into customer behavior, helps inventory management, and enhances the user experience. Image recognition helps identify threats or intruders in security and surveillance. However, it is not without its challenges. One drawback is that image recognition systems require substantial computational power and large datasets for training, which may be costly and complex to implement. Privacy concerns arise, especially in applications like facial recognition.

Image recognition is currently used in various fields, including e-commerce for product search and recommendation systems, healthcare for medical image analysis, automotive for self-driving cars and safety features, agriculture for crop monitoring, and social media for content tagging and filtering. Image recognition is used in advertising to identify logos and products in user-generated content. Image recognition is a versatile technology that has the potential to revolutionize how we interact with the visual world.

Image recognition and QR codes differ primarily in inputs and outputs. QR codes are designed to store and quickly retrieve specific data, such as website URLs or contact information, whereas image recognition operates by interpreting and understanding the content within images or videos. QR codes are a more direct means of providing information or linking to websites, making the code convenient for specific tasks. Image recognition offers a broader range of applications, from object detection to content analysis, which involves more complex processes and provides a richer contextual understanding of visual content. The choice between the two depends on the desired functionality and goals of a particular application or system.

8. Bluetooth beaconsbluetooth beacons

Bluetooth beacons are compact, hardware-based transmitters that utilize Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) technology to transmit unique identifiers to nearby mobile devices. The identifiers, often as a universally unique identifier (UUID), allow for location-based actions and interactions. Bluetooth beacons offer several notable features, including compatibility with a wide range of mobile devices, low power consumption, and flexibility in deployment.

One key feature of Bluetooth beacons is compatibility with various mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets running Android and iOS operating systems. The compatibility makes Bluetooth beacons accessible to a broad user base, enhancing the versatility and potential applications.

The Bluetooth beacons transmit the unique identifiers to many devices simultaneously. The capacity ranges from a single device to hundreds or even thousands, depending on the specific use case and the configuration of the beacon network.

A mobile device's compatible app or operating system is required to use Bluetooth beacons. The apps are able to listen for and respond to the beacon's signals when signals come into proximity. For instance, retailers deploy beacons to provide customers with location-based offers or in-store navigation. Users with the retailer's app installed on their smartphones receive these notifications when they approach a beacon, enhancing their shopping experience.

Pros of Bluetooth beacons include low power consumption, which allows for extended battery life in the beacon devices. It is crucial for long-term, cost-effective installations. Bluetooth beacons are versatile and deployed in various settings, from retail stores and museums to healthcare facilities and outdoor public spaces. The ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and potential for enhancing user experiences make them a valuable tool for location-based interactions.

However, Bluetooth beacons have some cons. Bluetooth beacons require users to install specific apps to interact with the beacons, limiting their reach to those who have taken that step. This can create a barrier to entry for users. Privacy concerns sometimes arise as beacon systems track user locations. Maintaining user trust by implementing robust privacy measures is essential.

Bluetooth beacons are currently used across various industries for diverse applications. Bluetooth beacons facilitate mobile commerce, provide location-based marketing, and offer in-store navigation in retail. Museums use the beacons to enhance visitor experiences, while healthcare facilities utilize them for in-home patient monitoring. Bluetooth beacons serve as tracker devices for locating objects, pets, or even people.

Bluetooth beacons provide a more seamless and automatic interaction than QR codes. QR codes require users to scan the code using smartphones, which is less intuitive and requires a dedicated scanning app. Bluetooth beacons, on the other hand, automatically trigger actions on devices in close proximity, eliminating the need for manual scanning. The real-time and automatic interaction enhances user engagement and the overall user experience.

9. Microsoft Tag

Microsoft Tags

Microsoft Tag, based on High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB) technology, offers unique features that set it apart from traditional 2D barcodes like QR codes. Its distinct feature lies in using colored triangles instead of square pixels, providing higher data density and greater flexibility. Microsoft Tag was initially a promising technology but has since been discontinued, and its usage has significantly declined. However, it's essential to explore its features, capacity, use, and pros and cons.

Microsoft Tag's primary feature was using colored triangles to encode data. Unlike QR codes that rely on square pixel patterns, Microsoft Tag uses a grid of colored triangles, offering the advantage of higher data density. It allows users to store more information within a relatively small space. The colored triangle approach adds a unique visual element to the codes, distinguishing them from traditional barcodes.

Microsoft Tag's data capacity is notably high due to its use of colored triangles. It accommodates significant information by varying the grid size, symbol density, and symbol count (number of colors used). Eight-color HCCBs created with standard printers encode approximately 3,500 characters per square inch in laboratory tests.

Using Microsoft Tag was straightforward for consumers. They needed to download the free Microsoft Tag reader application on internet-capable mobile devices with cameras. Users launch the app and scan a Microsoft Tag with their phone's camera after installing the application. Scanning a Tag triggered the display of intended content, such as text, vCard information, URLs, online photos, videos, or publisher contact details. Some GPS-enabled phones send location data and HCCB information, enabling location-specific content.

Microsoft Tag offers an interactive and engaging way to bridge physical and digital content, making it suitable for marketing and promotional materials. It allows businesses to create visually appealing codes that are customized for various applications. The technology facilitated user engagement by directing them to online content, and its tracking capabilities provided valuable analytics to publishers.

Microsoft Tag faced challenges related to its adoption and eventual discontinuation. As it was a proprietary technology, users needed to download the specific Microsoft Tag reader application, which was seen as a barrier to entry. The discontinuation of the service in 2015 shifted the platform to Scanbuy, which led to a decline in its use.

Microsoft Tag was used primarily in marketing and advertising. It allowed companies to transform traditional marketing media, such as print advertising, billboards, packaging, and in-store displays, into gateways for accessing online information. For example, a real estate sign features a Microsoft Tag, providing potential buyers access to property details, photos, and contact information. The technology aimed to create a seamless transition from offline to online content.

The main difference lies in the visual representation of Microsoft Tag to QR codes. Microsoft Tag uses colored triangles, offering higher data density, while QR codes rely on square pixel patterns. Microsoft Tag was known for its tracking and analytics capabilities, which were valuable for marketers. QR codes, on the other hand, are more widely adopted and remain in use for a broader range of applications.

Powered by HCCB technology, Microsoft Tag introduced a unique approach to 2D barcodes with its colored triangles and high data density. It found use in marketing and advertising but faced challenges due to its proprietary nature and eventual discontinuation. Although it offered tracking and analytics benefits, the need for users to download a specific application limited its widespread adoption. While Microsoft Tag is no longer in active use, it contributed to the evolution of barcode technology in mobile engagement and marketing.

10. Google Goggles

Google Goggles is a pioneering image recognition mobile app developed by Google that allows users to conduct searches based on images captured by handheld devices, offering a unique approach to information retrieval. It features an impressive capacity to recognize and interpret a wide range of visual content, making it a versatile tool for various purposes. Users capture images of landmarks, products, barcodes, text, and more, initiating searches to gather information relevant to the visual input.

The application's capacity to process visual data is a distinguishing feature, enabling it to identify objects, labels, and landmarks in images. It means that users simply take a picture of a famous landmark, and Google Goggles initiates a search to provide detailed information about that landmark. Capturing a product's barcode triggers a search for product details and prices. It solves Sudoku puzzles from photographs, making it a handy tool for enthusiasts. The app features optical character recognition (OCR), allowing it to extract text from images and, in some cases, translate the text into other languages, expanding its usability.

Using Google Goggles is straightforward. Users must download and install the mobile app on Android or iOS devices. The user opens the app and uses the device's camera to capture images. The app processes the captured image, which initiates relevant searches and returns information related to the image. It was especially useful for travelers, shoppers, and anyone interested in exploring and learning more about the world around them.

Pros of Google Goggles include its ability to provide information quickly and conveniently based on visual input, making it suitable for a wide range of applications, from identifying landmarks while traveling to checking prices and product details while shopping. Its optical character recognition feature allows it to extract text from images, which is beneficial for language translation and text-based searches. The integration of visual and text-based search capabilities make it a versatile tool for various user needs.

One limitation of Google Goggles is that it relies on internet connectivity to perform searches, meaning it does not work in areas with poor or no network coverage. Its accuracy in recognizing specific objects or landmarks varies based on image quality and complexity. It faces challenges in identifying items with limited visual cues.

Google Goggles found applications in diverse scenarios, with users utilizing it for travel, shopping, language translation, and more. For example, travelers use it to identify landmarks and access information about them. Shoppers scan product barcodes to check prices and compare products. It is found to be used in art and culture, with institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art using it to provide information about artworks through direct links to the websites, enhancing the visitor experience.

The main difference between Google Goggles and QR codes is that Google Goggles uses image recognition to allow users to capture various types of visual content for searches, whereas QR codes are static two-dimensional bar codes that provide predefined information or direct users to specific URLs upon scanning. Google Goggles offer greater flexibility in recognizing a wide range of visual elements, whereas QR codes are limited to the information embedded in the code.

11. MaxiCodeMaxicode

MaxiCode is a notable 2D barcode system developed by the United Parcel Service (UPS) that has entered the public domain, serving as an effective tool for managing the shipment of packages. Its distinctive features make it a reliable choice for logistics and shipping applications. MaxiCode sets itself apart through its unique appearance, featuring a hexagonal grid of dots instead of the square grid typically seen in 2D barcodes like QR codes. Its 1-inch square shape showcases a central bullseye, encircled by a pattern of hexagonal dots.

The capacity of MaxiCode is a notable strength, allowing it to store approximately 93 characters of information. Its storage ability to condense data into a small space is vital for applications where space is limited. Up to 8 MaxiCode symbols are able to be concatenated, providing a versatile way to convey more extensive data when needed. MaxiCode's efficiency is further enhanced by its centered, symmetrical bullseye, facilitating automatic symbol location and successful scanning even when the package is moving at high speeds, a valuable feature for efficient package tracking.

MaxiCode's Structured Carrier Message is a key feature incorporated into symbols using modes 2 and 3. The message contains essential package information and is safeguarded by a robust Reed-Solomon error correction code, ensuring that the data remains accessible even if parts of the symbol are damaged. It contains crucial details, including a 4-bit mode indicator (commonly mode 2 or 3), postal codes, country codes following ISO 3166 standards, and carrier-assigned class of service codes. This structured message is strategically located near the bullseye pattern for easy retrieval.

MaxiCode symbols accommodate application-specific information and structured carrier messages, making them suitable for various applications. This feature is precious for attaching relevant details like purchase orders, customer references, invoice numbers, tracking information, and indicators of the originating carrier.

MaxiCode offers a variety of modes to cater to different needs. Modes 2 and 3 are widely used, with Mode 2 suitable for US domestic destinations, thanks to its numeric postal code support. Mode 3, on the other hand, is tailored for international destinations and accommodates alphanumeric postal codes. The modes offer essential flexibility for various shipping and logistics requirements.

MaxiCode is predominantly utilized for package tracking and management within UPS. Its high data capacity and error correction capabilities make it ideal for ensuring packages are accurately routed and managed during the shipping process. The system's capacity to condense vital package information and handle a variety of modes is highly advantageous in the logistics and shipping industry.

MaxiCode stands out due to its unique hexagonal dot grid, a characteristic feature that allows it to be precisely scanned, even when packages are in rapid motion compared to QR codes. QR codes, with the square grid, are more common for general applications such as advertising, business cards, and URLs, while MaxiCode is specialized for logistics and package tracking, offering robust error correction capabilities and structured message support for shipping information.


Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a wireless technology that utilizes electromagnetic fields to identify and track objects automatically, typically accomplished through RFID tags or transponders. The RFID tags come in various forms, such as passive, active, and battery-assisted passive, and are equipped with microchips and antennas for communication with RFID readers. RFID is renowned for its non-line-of-sight functionality, meaning that RFID tags do not need to be in direct line-of-sight with the reader, making them suitable for embedded or hard-to-reach locations.

RFID technology boasts several key features. One of its standout features is its read range, which varies from a few centimeters to hundreds of meters, depending on the type of RFID tag used. The capacity to store and transmit data as a unique identifier or with additional information is another valuable feature. It makes RFID versatile for various applications, from inventory management to contactless payments.

The capacity of RFID tags varies significantly, with passive tags generally holding limited data due to the simple design, typically featuring a unique serial number or a minimal set of product information. Active tags, on the other hand, have more storage and processing capabilities, which are suitable for storing more extensive data like temperature and humidity readings. However, storage capacity is still relatively modest compared to other data storage solutions like QR codes.

Using RFID technology typically involves attaching or embedding RFID tags on objects. RFID readers or transceivers emit electromagnetic signals, which power passive tags and trigger data transmission. The data is read, processed, and stored in connected systems. Data is transmitted periodically or upon specific events using active and battery-assisted passive tags. This technology's use ranges from simple inventory tracking, where tags are scanned to update stock levels, to more complex applications like asset management, vehicle tracking, or access control.

Pros of RFID include its convenience, especially in scenarios where barcodes or QR codes might be impractical. RFID tags are scanned quickly and without a direct line of sight, making them ideal for tracking and managing items in challenging environments. The technology offers real-time tracking capabilities, enabling efficient inventory management and loss prevention. Additionally, RFID tags are durable and can withstand harsh conditions and environments.

However, RFID technology comes with some drawbacks. Its implementation is cost-prohibitive, especially in large-scale operations. Privacy concerns have been raised about RFID technology, as it potentially leads to unauthorized data collection if not properly secured. There is the risk of signal interference or collision when multiple tags are in close proximity, making it necessary to design RFID systems that minimize such issues.

RFID is currently employed across a wide array of industries and applications. Logistics and supply chain management benefit significantly from RFID technology, which enhances tracking, optimizes processes, and minimizes errors. Retail stores use RFID for inventory management and loss prevention, where RFID tags on items expedite checkout processes and deter theft. Hospitals leverage RFID to manage assets, track patient and employee movements, and enhance safety. Other applications include access control, library and museum inventory management, and transportation systems.

RFID offers an advantage in terms of convenience and durability compared to QR codes. RFID tags are read without a direct line of sight, whereas QR codes require scanning through a camera, which is less reliable in challenging conditions. QR codes are more versatile for general-purpose applications like advertising, business cards, or website links, whereas RFID is specialized for tracking and inventory management, making it the preferred choice for industries that require precise tracking and management of physical items.

Why Use Other QR Code Alternative?

Switching from QR code alternatives to other technologies is prompted by data capacity limitations, appearance limitations, security concerns, and internet dependence. One compelling reason is the limitations of the QR code data's data capacity, making it less suitable for scenarios requiring extensive information storage. Jab codes offer higher data capacities and are more suitable if a system encodes large datasets. The aesthetics of QR codes don’t align with specific design preferences, leading to a shift towards alternatives like NFC tags or augmented reality markers that offer more flexibility in appearance. It is essential to consider security concerns; QR codes are generally secure, but specific applications require enhanced security features offered by cryptographic QR codes or encrypted NFC tags. NFC or Bluetooth-based alternatives like Bluetooth Beacons prove more practical in offline environments without internet access. The provided considerations, rooted in the specific requirements of each use case, underscore the superiority of alternative technologies over QR codes in specific contexts.

Which QR Code Alternative Has the Largest Capacity?

JAB Code has the largest capacity among QR code alternatives because it uses 4 or 8 colors, allowing for higher data density than traditional QR codes' binary black-and-white nature. The color variations enable more information to be stored in the same space, making it useful for applications like digital signatures and product authenticity assurance.

JAB Code is primarily designed for data storage, finding utility in scenarios where substantial information needs encoding within a confined space. Its versatile applications include ensuring document security by digitally signing encrypted versions of printed legal documents, contracts, and certificates. JAB Code is well-suited for encoding medical prescriptions securely, offering tamper-resistant information. It plays a role in product authenticity assurance by encoding information that aids in combatting counterfeiting, which is particularly crucial in industries where counterfeit products pose significant threats.

Which QR Code Alternative is Much Safer to Use?

NFC is a much safer alternative to QR codes. NFC’s short-range communication, encryption protocols, and authentication support reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Transactions using NFC are faster, easier, and more secure.

Robust encryption protocols ensure secure data transfer and the support for mutual authentication adds an extra layer of identity validation between devices.NFC relies on wireless communication, reducing the risk of information exposure through visual capture, unlike QR codes. Some NFC-enabled devices integrate secure elements like secure chips, enhancing overall security. The NFC’s features collectively position NFC as a highly secure option for applications similar to those utilizing QR codes, prioritizing data integrity and secure transactions.

How to Choose the Right QR Code Alternative

To choose the right QR code alternative, follow the provided steps.

  1. Define Data Type. Identify the specific type of data that needs to be encoded in the barcode.
  2. Evaluate Data Capacity. Assess the volume of data to be stored and determine if alternatives like Data Matrix, PDF417, Jab codes, or Aztec codes are more suitable for higher data capacities.
  3. Scan Device Compatibility. Identify and list the scanning devices to be used for reading barcodes. Ensure compatibility between the chosen barcode alternative and the scanning devices in use or planned for the application.
  4. Check Industry Standards. Research and identify any industry-specific standards or regulations governing barcode symbology usage. Confirm compliance with the standards for the chosen alternative.
  5. Consider Global Use. Evaluate whether the application has a global reach and choose a barcode alternative widely recognized internationally or fits specific regional preferences.
  6. Assess Printing Requirements. Evaluate printing capabilities, including resolution and technology. Consider label size and material requirements for printing the chosen barcode.
  7. Consider Durability. Assess environmental conditions where barcodes will be used. Choose an alternative that can withstand conditions such as extreme temperatures, exposure to chemicals, or physical wear.
  8. Integration with Systems. Evaluate the ease of integrating the chosen barcode alternative with existing systems and workflows. Ensure compatibility with the current technology stack.
  9. Cost Analysis. Conduct a comprehensive cost analysis, including licensing fees, hardware costs, and ongoing support expenses associated with the chosen barcode alternative.
  10. Plan for Scalability. Anticipate future growth and scalability needs. Ensure that the chosen alternative handles increased data volume and transaction frequency without performance degradation.
  11. Consider Ease of Decoding. Evaluate the simplicity and accuracy of decoding the encoded data. Consider whether the chosen alternative requires advanced decoding algorithms or is prone to errors in specific conditions.

Can Any Mobile Phone Pay Through NFC?

Yes, many mobile smartphones can pay through NFC technology like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. However, availability varies based on factors such as the phone's operating system, the installed payment app, bank support, and regional considerations.

Can an iPhone Use Microsoft Tag?

No, iPhones cannot use Microsoft Tag. Microsoft Tag was discontinued in 2015, and its services are no longer available, rendering it incompatible with iPhones or other devices.

Make your materials better

Add editable and trackable QR Codes on anything you want with full branding and customization features.