These are matrix symbols that are usually square and are made up of small black and white squares. They can encode a lot more data than a conventional linear barcode, and be of a much smaller size. They can be laser marked or etched onto metal surfaces (direct part marking) so that individual components of a manufactured product can be uniquely identified. They are also increasingly being used when a product, such as a pharmaceutical, needs to be identified with its product number (its GTIN), an expiry date, and a batch or serial number.
Data Matrix and QR Code are two of the most common symbols, and QR Codes are most often seen as a means of providing a website link for mobile-phone users. Users can also generate and print their own QR codes from a range of paid-for and free QR Code generating websites or smartphone apps.
The GS1 versions of these barcodes are called GS1 DataMatrix and GS1 QR Code, and they can be used without any confusion alongside other GS1 barcodes when the application allows for their use. They are chiefly being used in the healthcare sector and for the identification of component parts, assets, and documents.