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Barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data relating to the object to which it is attached.

Originally barcodes systematically represented 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) codes were developed, using rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in two dimensions, usually called barcodes although they do not use bars as such.

Barcodes originally were scanned by special optical scanners called barcode readers. Later applications software became available for devices that could read images, such as smartphones with cameras.