The NYT.com recently wrote an article about an interesting new bar code technology called GS1 DataBars that can help track information from products sold in grocery store chains, down to individual pieces of loose produce. The bar codes are pretty cool because they can be applied to individual pieces of fruit to capture variable weight pricing information, allowing grocery stores to keep better records of the produce people buy and streamline the check-out process. Even today, a lot of time is eaten up on line at the grocery store with manual data entry and weighing of individual pieces of produce. This bar code technology has unique information in two distinct mini-bar codes which capture pricing data about that piece of fruit and allows the price to be rung up as if scanning a box of cereal or other fixed-weight item. Pretty cool. There are implications to this bar code technology for promotional use as well, especially with mobile phones, which are becoming the rave for mobile coupons at grocery stores. I love this technology for the produce folks. Putting a unique barcode label on each piece of fruit is a daunting task but is the best idea I’ve seen in a long time to streamline the process at the register and stocking in the store. It puts a larger burden on the produce distributors but is a huge leap forward in supply-chain management for groceries, which has always managed produce in an ad-hoc way. I’m not sure if this technology will fit perfectly with Mobile phones, given the existing issues around scanning bar codes off mobile phones, as well as the issues with linear bar codes on mobile phone, which tend to get mashed up and re-sized on different mobile phone screens. We’ll just have to wait and see.