Connected Passivity And The Internet Of Things In A Symbology World

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 Connected Passivity And The Internet Of Things In A Symbology World

For a long time, barcode identification type symbols (linear barcodes, PDF417, 2-D/QR Codes, 3-D/PM Codes) have been an accepted way to keep track of the movement of objects, identifying content and pricing, and a really good way of processing transactions in a business environment for efficiency and profit.

Through the advent of radio signal enabled personal communications devices with a camera (computers, phones, smartphones, and etc.), businesses found many ways to reach out and grab the attention of consumers by connecting them to promotional and other functional ways to reach out to generate sales/brand loyalty in a connected environment.

When one combines the expansion of cloud services as a way to further connect people with the control and access to information of the world around them, this “Internet Of Things” TCPIP address environment is beginning to include … well, everything active, and more importantly … inactive.

This issue of inactive/passivity of an object may be part of the reason barcodes are among the top
technologies considered necessary to enable the IoT, according to a
survey commissioned by Zebra Technologies and conducted by Forrester
Consulting.  Image Credit: Forrester
Consulting via

This excerpted and edited from Information Week –

The Internet of (Passive) Things

IoT is not only about sensors, actuators, and connected thermostats – manufacturers need to incorporate all bar-coded products into their plans

By Lori MacVittie – 7/23/2014 | 09:06 AM – InformationWeek

As someone who suffers from celiac disease, I rely on all sorts of tricks to ensure I don’t accidentally become “glutenized” (as my six-year-old calls it). One of those tools is an app on my iPhone that reads a barcode and then consults a database to determine whether or not the product in question is safe — meaning it does not contain gluten.

The effectiveness of this app relies on two things: the people who maintain the barcode database, and the reliability of the information provided by the manufacturer. While it’s not perfect because of the tenuous relationship between the two, the lag time involved in updating product information, and the confusion as to what constitutes “gluten-free” across the food industry, I generally listen to the app. If it indicates there might be gluten in a product, I don’t buy it. Period.

Now, many folks won’t consider this app and its backend process part of the Internet of Things. The products themselves are not in any way “connected” to the Internet or any mobile network, nor does the application communicate directly in any way with the products. I must manually scan the bar code to initiate communication between the app and its database (which lives somewhere “out there” on the Internet) to determine whether or not I should purchase a given product.

But just because it’s not directly connected does not mean it’s not a part of the big picture. The fact is, it isn’t feasible to sensor- or Internet-enable everything. Food is clearly one of those categories that simply wouldn’t be cost effective or realistic to connect directly to the Internet of Things. But that doesn’t mean food — and other consumables — can’t participate via other directly connected “things.”


Barcodes, QR codes, or any kind of “code” imprinted on a product can certainly participate in the IoT, albeit in passive mode. That means they are not constantly active; they must be brought into the conversation through the use of some other connected device.

I call it passive tethering; you can call it what you will. Whatever the terminology, it’s important to realize that the IoT will not be comprised solely of active, always-on “things.” There will be hundreds of thousands of passively connected things that will ultimately change the way consumers act, make purchasing decisions, and go about their daily lives.

Producers that affix codes to products (that means, well, just about all of you) should consider that it is nigh impossible to prevent the participation of these products in the Internet of Things through mechanisms as described above, even if you wanted to. Third-party applications will find a way to leverage barcodes and other identifying data to provide value to consumers.


Ensuring consumers can access information from passively tagged products is far more difficult than providing links to actively participating products because you don’t control the third-party applications or things through which consumers will seek it. That means you’ve got to ensure that those third-party applications or things have easy access to the data.

That’s right, you’ve got to make that data accessible — probably through an API.


The right API design will ensure you have visibility into queries regarding your product and, if you design it right, their purchasing requirements. That’s valuable insight you can use to make marketing and production plans. It can help shape business decisions regarding whether or not a market exists for your product within a certain demographic or with specific health-related criteria.

The Internet of (Passive) Things is going to be just as influential and important to the future of business as its constantly connected counterpart. Ignore it at your peril.

[Reference Here]

No matter the specific reason a person may have to insist on timely information expanded through cloud based services, businesses who are pro-active in this expansion of the “Symbology” of things … ALL THINGS … will benefit over their competitors through increased contact with their target market.

Behold the power of expanding connectivity to passive items through resident symbology (linear barcodes, PDF417, 2-D/QR Codes, 3-D/PM Codes), as well as all things TCPIP addressed – Internet of Things!

About Edmund Jenks 12 Articles
Edmund Jenks - Managing Editor of 12 weblogs - KLOUT Score 65 (before ending 5/2018) - Published at Performance & Racing Tech Talk, Motorsports Journal, Pajamas Media, Politisite, Opinions Post, Technorati, & more

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