Barcodes are amazing; we all know that. They have so many wonderful applications, including some that you’ve probably never even considered before. But now a viral post is showing just how versatile these vertical lines can be as an artist creates a wonderful musical melody using a selection of barcodes and some scanners.
You can watch the amazing techno beats here:
The video shows people creating a beat by wielding barcode scanners in front of a sheet adorned with many varieties of barcode patterns. So, who is behind this creation, and how does it work?
The Barcode Player
The musician in question is a man called Ei Wada, a Japanese artist who rebuilds old electronic appliances and makes them into musical instruments. In the past, he has taken part in an orchestral project using 20 reel-to-reel tape recorders, has provided music for Issey Miyake Paris Shows and he creates art and music with the tech group Electronicos Fantasticos. The barcode video seen above was made with this group in 2018, and they’ve been performing with barcodes ever since.
How Does it Work?
While the artist likes to keep his cards to his chest, he states that the barcode scanners are modified and generate sounds by connecting to scanned signals directly to the audio terminal to output sound.
The printed sheet of barcodes don’t look like barcodes in the traditional sense since barcodes typically consist of a pattern of bars of varying thickness and numbers. Usually, a barcode scanner interprets the reflected light from the barcode lines, and this allows a computer system to understand what is being communicated. The barcodes used in the video include a variety of patterns outside of the typical vertical lines.
People have speculated that parameters like pitch and sound are controlled by actions like moving the scanners closer and away, or the speed at which they move, their tilt and aiming them at certain blocks of patterns. If you imagine the various barcodes as sound samples, then the scanners are used to control certain parts of the sounds with different settings applied to them.
Aside from barcodes, Wada has also turned his hand to CRT televisions, transforming them into ukulele-type instruments and using a factory fan as a bass guitar.
Other Uses for Barcodes
At GSM Barcoding, we love everything barcodes. While they are great for providing a comprehensive asset tracking system within warehouses and other supply chain environments, they have so many more wonderful and crazy applications.
Just recently, a DNA barcoding project was rolled out that aims to discover two million new species by using barcodes to identify new species in the animal kingdom, typically a painfully slow process. Barcodes are also being tried out to revolutionise the recycling process, being implemented into difficult to recycle packaging and then scanned by sorting machines to help more effectively sort recycling.
We have also explored the more unusual barcode uses, including the use of QR codes on gravestones to create an online memorial that can be scanned and accessed via smartphones; nutrition apps that allow people to scan the barcodes on food products to receive more in-depth information about them; museums that use barcodes next to their displays so visitors can view interactive visuals that tell them more about the pieces; and even barcode tags on pet’s collars so lost pets can be easily reunited with their owner.
There is no limit to the incredible things that barcodes can do. We’re excited to see just what other wonderful and unusual uses people find for these incredible black and white lines in the future.
At GSM, we use our own barcodes and barcodes scanners to provide our customers with totally integrated barcoding solutions for their business. You can track your assets from anywhere at any time with our web-based asset tracking systems. No more spreadsheets or manual paper records, our platforms allow you to track everything from one centralised system. And if our off the shelf models do not meet your business requirements, we are also able to provide you with a specific software solution to meet your needs and provide cost-effective integration into your existing system.
With GSM, it couldn’t be simpler to drive efficiency and productivity with one of our comprehensive barcoding systems. Contact us today to find out more or for professional advice and recommendations.