1) How does data interchange using barcodes work?

Data interchange or EDI using barcodes is a simple four-step process:

First, a consumer fills in an enabled e-Form. The e-Form automatically sums up and adds tags to relevant data to make the form capable of exchanging data automatically.

Second, the e-Form can be sent electronically, or printed and sent as hard copy.

Third, the e-Form is received by a business. The barcode on the e-Form is scanned either from a hard copy or directly from a computer screen (or any other video display).

Fourth, the back-end systems receive the tagged data contained in the barcode, and automatically use the tags to identify the data and input it correctly into a database.

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2) Don't Electronic Data Interchange systems do the same thing?

EDI systems in fact do the same thing. The problem with EDI is that data has to be formatted strictly in order to be interchanged from one business partner to another. XML is EDI, but the regimented structure required for two disparate computer systems to interchange data is largely eliminated. A single e-Form can be used by many different businesses, like a standard web-based Purchase Order. Conversely, a single business system can accept data from many different e-Form Purchase Orders, each in the format of a specific customer. Again, the key is the flexibility of describing data using XML. This, coupled with the universally understood input capability of data as keyboard keystrokes from a barcode, eliminates the need for sophisticated, regimented middleware that is needed to facilitate the data transfer.

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3) Why is this special? What makes it unique?

This solution is unique because of the marriage of two powerful concepts, XML and barcodes. XML tags are the key to identifying the data, no matter the physical layout of the e-Form, and barcodes are a universal and time-tested way of inputting data into a computer. When a barcode scanner is connected to a computer, the scan is interpreted as keystrokes from a standard keyboard. Any computer or device that can accept keyboard input can accept a barcode scan.

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4) If my company receives a barcoded invoice, what is needed to interact with my accounting software?

On a rudimentary level, if the barcodes do not contain tagged data, all that is needed to transfer data represented by a series of 1-Dimensional barcodes is a scanner attached to a computer.

On the more sophisticated level, an accounting software package would need to have been developed to be XML compliant. If this is so, then the information summed up in a barcode on an e-Form can be scanned and input into any enabled software package.

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5) What is needed to receive an insurance application with a barcode and process it at the home office of an insurance company?

An insurance company distributes a copy of their insurance application to a customer via the web, or in a CD or DVD-ROM. The e-Form sums up data on the form as a barcode and tags the information for data transfer. The home office receives the e-Form with barcode via e-mail (or a printed hard copy, if a signature is required). The home office uses a bulk scanner or hand-held scanner to capture the customer’s information contained in the barcode, and easily transfers the data into their business system using XML.

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6) What benefits do small firms realize from using this technology?

The benefits for small firms are incredible. Large firms like Wal-Mart require businesses to be EDI-capable in order to do business with them. Using traditional EDI would mean that a small firm wanting to do business with Wal-Mart, Target, and Sears would have to set up and maintain three different, expensive, and complicated middleware components to do business with these three big customers. XML means a small firm can do business with all three large firms easily, and barcodes mean that a small firm can easily receive and input data into their business system directly off a hard copy Purchase Order, or using our technology, they can scan the same barcoded Purchase Order sent in an e-mail right off their computer monitor.

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7) What are video barcodes?

A video barcode is a barcode contained, stored, or transmitted on a web page, e-mail, instant message, or other electronic form. The bar code is scanned directly from the device's video display (computer monitor, hand-held device, etc.) If the barcode is 1D, then the data is scanned normally. If the barcode is a 2D tagged barcode, then the tagged data it contains is transferred in XML format to a receiving system.

Until recently, the technology didn’t exist to be able to scan a video displayed barcode reliably. This is one of the advances we've made. Video bar codes open up many new horizons in forms processing, couponing, and point of sale transactions.

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8) How might video barcodes reduce paper flow for my office?

A barcode contained, stored, transmitted on a web-page, or e-Mail, or Instant Message eliminates the need to print a document just to capture data contained in the barcode. Eliminating the need to print a document makes the process paperless, and the information contained in the document is easily distributed to the right people and departments within an organization. We’ve even developed a way to take a picture of a barcode using a web-camera or security camera, transferring the image over a network or the Internet, and displaying it on a screen for capture at a remote location.

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9) Do you view this technology as revolutionary for the near future?

Our patented technology is indeed revolutionary for the near future. XML has quickly become a de facto standard for tagging data for transfer, and the reliable barcode is a widely available technology for inputting data reliably into any computer system. The Internet will power the revolution for video barcodes. All that is needed to enable XML and barcodes can be controlled on one end of a transaction. Enabling an EDI transaction using any technology other than barcodes and XML involves additional hardware on both ends of a transaction— RFID tag reader, magnetic stripe encoder, and so on. Even though a business may have to change the type of barcode readers they choose in the future, barcodes and barcode readers are a commodity. For under $300, a business can purchase a barcode scanner that can read either printed or video barcodes. That same reader will read the data tagged with XML without any additional modifications. A barcode can be printed literally anywhere, and inexpensively. XML and barcodes are mature technologies. The revolution comes from putting them together. Add video barcodes to the mix, and you have an even bigger revolution.

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