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Data Matrix Code VS QR Code: Differences Explained

Data Matrix Code VS QR Code: Differences Explained

Nowadays, 2D barcodes have become an essential part of our lives. Whether you are at a restaurant, a retail store or simply browsing some website, 2D barcodes can be seen everywhere.

Talking about the popularity of data matrix codes and QR codes- these two types of 2D barcodes have majorly contributed to transferring information quickly and efficiently. They both are scannable by smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices. Both of these are ideal solutions for increasing customer experience and engagement.

Both kind of barcodes share some basic similarities as they are composed of black and white squares arranged in a pattern, and can be encoded with various kinds of information, however, they both have various different functionalities and applications.

Let’s discuss what data matrix codes and QR codes are in detail:

Understanding Data Matrix code

A DATA MATRIX CODE is a 2D barcode that contains small black and white square or rectangular cells arranged in a matrix pattern with an L-shape at one end. These cells are named “modules,” and each contains some data. It can store up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters and support all encoding standards of ASCII characters.

Data matrix codes were introduced by a US-based company named International Data Matrix Inc. in 1989. They have exceptional error correction algorithms, meaning that a scanner can read and recognize the barcode’s data even if 30 % of the pixels are damaged. They are commonly used in the healthcare, automotive, and electronics manufacturing industries.

Understanding QR code

QR CODES, also called Quick Response codes, are composed of black and white squares and rectangles arranged in a matrix pattern and can be encoded with all types of data and information (numerical digits, alphabets, image, PDF, URL, and binary codes).
 

In 1994, Denso Wave, a Toyota Motors company in Japan, designed QR codes.

QR Codes feature an identical set of three square designs located at the top right, top left, and bottom left positions of the QR code. They store a large amount of information (more than 7,000 numbers or 4,000 alphabets). QR codes are commonly used in advertising and promotional campaigns.

Data Matrix Code vs. QR Code: Differences

Now that we already have some idea about both, the Data Matrix and QR codes, we can discuss their differences as follows:

1. Structural difference: Data matrix codes represent an L-shaped structure from one end to another end. On the other hand, QR codes have three similarly shaped squares at the top right, top left, and bottom left of the code.

2. Character set: Data matrix code supports all 256 ASCII codes, SO characters, Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC) characters, and multi-byte character sets. Whereas, a QR code supports all types of data (numerical digits, alphabets, and binary codes).

3. Data storage capacity: A data storage capacity represents the amount of data that can be stored in a barcode. The data matrix code stores 2335 alphanumeric characters, 3,116 numerical characters, or 1556 bytes of information. But QR codes can store 4296 alphanumeric characters, 7089 numeric characters, 2953 bytes of information, or 1817 Kanji characters. Which means it has more data storage capacity than a data matrix code.

4. Error Correction Capabilities and Readability: Both the barcodes have error correction capability because they are based on the Reed-Solomon algorithm.

The error-correcting (EC) capability of data matrix codes ranges from 25% to 33%. The EC levels of this barcode symbology, however, are not manually adjustable and are determined by the barcode size and remaining storage capacity. On the other hand, the QR code ranges between 7% to 30% of error correction capability. QR code also can manually adjust the EC levels according to the environment. They have four types of EC levels.

1. Level L (Low) – 7%

2. Level M (Medium) – 15%

3. Level Q (Quartile) – 25%

4. Level H (High) – 30%

5. ISO Standard: Both data matrices and QR codes are defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which makes them globally accepted as international standards. ISO/IEC 16022:2006 defines data matrix codes and ISO/IEC 18004:2015 defines QR codes.

6. Customization: QR codes are extensively popular for their flexibility of customization options such as custom logo integration, image integration, icons, color coding, foreground and background colors, and border styles & size. This is why they are preferred by businesses and marketers to draw user attention and engagement. However, data matrix codes do not offer any such customization options. They can only have a different module and background color. So, as a verdict QR codes are way ahead of data matrix codes in terms of customization and flexibility.

7. Their applications:

Data matrix codes
are useful to mark small items or equipment like pharmaceuticals, jewelry, automotive parts, and electronic components because of their ability to store large data in a small space.

QR codes are popularly used for marketing, promotional activities, social media sharing, and other customer engagement tasks. They are now being used for a variety of tasks, including contactless payments, displaying content (videos, images, documents),website-accessible content, sharing contact details, sharing location, etc.


Which is Better? and How to Choose?

Choosing between them depends on specific requirements. The data matrix is compact and designed for small spaces, making it ideal for applications where space is limited, such as in manufacturing or electronics. On the other hand, the QR Code, with its square shape and larger size, is widely used in marketing and consumer applications due to its ease of readability and ability to store various data types, including URLs and contact information.

QR Codes are great for advertising and marketing industry. Dynamic QR Codes can be used for creating digital and physical campaign for marketing and can be edited later on to target new set of audiences as per need.

So, selecting between a data matrix and a QR Code involves considering factors like data capacity, available space, scanning distance, and the intended application. Therefore, the better option depends on their use case and the type of information they encode and decode.

To conclude, QR and data matrix codes are highly effective ways to store large amounts of data in an easy-to-scan format. Both barcodes have respective advantages and features, making them ideal for nearly any application.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1) What are the various similarities between Data Matrix Codes and QR Codes?

1. Data Matrix codes and QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that use black-and-white patterns of line to store information.

2. Both can carry the same data as traditional linear or “1D” barcodes.

3. Both barcodes can be scanned and decoded by smartphone cameras or dedicated third-party barcode scanning applications.

4. Data matrix and QR codes require a “Quiet Zone” to ensure proper and accurate scanning.

Q2) When to choose a Data Matrix Barcode?

You can opt for data matrix code when the space is limited on the product packaging, and the encoded data is short enough to fit into the lowest data matrix variant (10×10 module). Or if It is mandatory or required as per industry regulations or standards.

Q3) When Should I Use the QR Code?

Go for a QR code when space is limited, but the information stored is longer than what can fit into the lowest data matrix variant (10×10 module) or in case of any customization required for user engagement.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.


  • Created on Dec 15, 2023
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