Barcodes and barcode scanning has come a long way over the last few decades and has mainly focused on making them easier to read. To that end, there has been development and an identified need within a range of industries to create “invisible” barcodes. These invisible barcodes are created by using specialized ink that emits a fluorescent “glow” when exposed to certain kinds of lights such as ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR) light. This essentially makes the barcode hidden to the naked eye. There are many reasons for barcodes of this nature including aesthetic, as to not ruin the look of a product, as well as brand authentication, security or tracking.

Industry & Application UsesInvisible Barcodes

  • Brand authentication – This has become a major problem worldwide over the pass few decades. This includes everything from pharmaceuticals, fake meds from China, to cosmetics and luxury goods such as fake wallets and handbags. Fake products whether imported or not create lost revenue to the manufactures and possible litigation issues to the sellers.
  • Package design – Many manufacturers and retailers use packaging with branding and colored designs leaving little room for visible barcodes. Invisible barcodes can be applied without using valuable real estate or interfering with the design. Additionally, these can be applied at different locations on the packaging, allowing barcoding scanners to easily read the codes no matter the positioning on the package.
  • Product Identification – Serial numbers and warning labels can utilize invisible barcodes to identify product information including product issues and requirement or possible recalls.

Reading Invisible Barcodes

Invisible barcodes are printed with special fluorescent ink and is visible when exposed to certain light such as ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR) light. Reading the barcodes on the other hand requires specialized lenses that can illuminate the ink resulting in the code becoming visible to the lens, decoded and turned in to data and text. For more information about specialized imaging lenses and barcode lens assemblies suited for optical inspection and other instruments contact Universe Kogaku at or by calling 516.624.2444.