Different Types of Symbologies

What is a symbology? A symbology is a system of symbols to store information in an optical and machine-readable way. It stores information by creating a unique way to store letters and numbers through a variation of symbols. A common example is a UPC, these are included on every product sold in stores and identify the product to the software being used. There are also QR codes, which are typically used to direct customers to a website or form. While there are many other types of symbologies and use cases for them, there are a set three that we focus on here at IDScan.net.

PDF417

PDF stands for Portable Data File. A PDF417 is a 2D printed symbol with a very high data density, which allows for large amounts of text and data storage in a secure and inexpensive way. Our scanners can gather the proper information from this symbology because the PDF417’s sections are unique and specific, making it distinct from the rest. This symbology has data redundancy, which allows scanners to read it with a certain degree of damage. Due to the nature of this symbology, the PDF417 must be printed at a certain size depending on the amount of information being stored in it. While technically a photo can be stored in this format, it would make the PDF417 too large for proper use.

PDF417

PDF417

Uses:                                                                              

  • Driver’s License
  • Government ID’s
  • Airline Tickets
  • Train Tickets
  • Shipping Labels
  • Concert Tickets

MRZ TD1 and MRZ TD3

An MRZ is a data type that can be put in a few different formats. They are 2D codes that retain the same information that you see on the front of the document. To make these codes readable, they must be put in the correct font as well as the correct type size. MRZ stands for machine-readable zone, which means that these symbologies help a reader quickly pick up the information on the front of the Identification it is on. They typically include things like a country code, the ID number, and the expiration date. 

An MRZ TD1 and MRZ TD3 are both MRZ’s, there are just subtypes of the data type. A TD1 is typically used when there is little space on the document. This allows for three lines to cover a smaller area of the document. A TD3 is used when there is more space and takes up two more spaced-out lines. 

MRZ TD1

MRZ TD1

Uses:

  • Passport ID Cards

MRZ TD3

MRZ TD3

Uses:          

  • Visa Cards
  • Passport Booklets

Conclusion

Symbologies are very useful for important documents. They allow for quick reading and imputation of the information from the document. Having all of the information in a symbology allows for an extra security measure to ensure that the information on a document is the same as in the data format. All of these symbol systems have one thing in common, the information within them can be read with a camera and a scanner. Next time you are looking at documents, keep an eye out for these commonly used symbologies.

FAQ:

How do I know which scanner can support the PDF417 used on a driver’s license?

All of our scanners that support 2D Barcodes have support for PDF417. The scanners can then parse that information into a database if you have the adjoining software. 

What happens after the information is pulled from the symbology?

We carry many different software solutions that can display and store data however you like. The most common are: local database, online database, csv, keyboard emulation, and/or photo capture. It can either be solely to read, or the data can be filled into a document if compatible. The information can also be run through a database like a sex-offender list.