Lost in the Supermarket: Math and Barcodes


Dr. Todd Wittman

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Noon, Friday, October 21, 2016

Grimsley Auditorium, 117


The familiar black and white stripes of the barcode appear on almost every commercial product.  Barcodes are used to ship packages, track airplane parts, and manage prescriptions at hospitals.  For several decades, the traditional barcode scanner used a laser scanner to obtain a high-resolution signal.  (You may have seen a red laser at the grocery store scanner.)  As cellphones become more common and cameras get smaller, there is a push to read barcodes from images.  But image-based scanners do not have the same resolution as the traditional laser scanner, which means some barcodes cannot be decoded.  We will discuss how calculus and vector geometry can be used to produce a super-resolution signal from the image.  The proposed algorithm allows barcode scanners to decode barcodes that were unreadable with traditional methods.