Aztec barcode

In this rapidly developing technological world, the role of barcodes has become indispensable in identifying products, tracking inventories, and streamlining business operations. With the increase in the need for contactless transactions, barcodes have become a go-to option for businesses and consumers. 

We see QR Codes almost everywhere now, but do you know what an Aztec barcode is? If not, then don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!

Aztec codes represent a highly adaptable and versatile barcode system that stands out from other technologies. They are known for their reliability, security, and ease of use, making them an excellent option for various apps. 

In this blog, we will acquaint you with what an Aztec code is, its features, and the various advantages that it brings to the table. 

Let’s dive in!

Aztec Barcode: What Is It?

The Aztec code, developed by researchers Andrew Longacre Jr. and Robert Hussey in 1995, is a two-dimensional barcode system engineered to efficiently contain data within a compact space. 

Because of its distinctive central design, the Aztec code is frequently more compact compared to other 2D barcode formats like QR codes or Data Matrix codes. 

Did you know?

The finder pattern of the code has a resemblance to the aerial perspective of an Aztec pyramid, which were ancient structures constructed by the Aztecs in central Mexico, giving the barcode its name.

The Aztec code can encode a maximum of 3,832 numerical digits, 3,067 alphabetic characters, or 1,914 bytes of data.

Aztec Barcode: How Do They Work?

Now that we have a rough idea of what Aztec barcodes are, let’s understand how they actually work.

The Aztec barcode format comprises a central square featuring layers of square pixels of different dimensions, such as 9 x 9, 13 x 13, 23 x 23 pixels, and so forth. These squares contain encoded data specific to the Aztec barcode. 

Additionally, Aztec barcodes include markers in their corners indicating the reading direction, eliminating the need for a “quiet zone” as required by other barcode formats. Furthermore, they possess the capability to store up to 1,914 bytes of data across their 32 layers.

Anatomy of Aztec Barcode:

Finder Pattern

Within Aztec codes, the finder pattern is a square configuration with a central bull’s-eye shape. This arrangement is composed of alternating black and white square rings, each being one module in width.

Orientation Pattern

The orientation patterns within an Aztec barcode contain details regarding the reading direction, the number of data layers present, and the number of data layers present in it. These patterns are chevron in shape and are positioned at the corners of the barcode.

Mode Message

Located in the same layer as the orientation pattern, the mode message stores information about the symbol, size, and length of the data.

Reference Grid

Made up of rows and columns of alternating black and white squares, the reference grid accurately maps the data field and maintains alignments of grids for large symbols.

Data Layers

The Aztec code comprises one or multiple data layers responsible for storing information along with check characters. These layers are scanned in a clockwise direction and start adjacent to the initial orientation pattern, having an all-black appearance.

Now let’s move on to knowing about the different types of Aztec barcode scanner.

Aztec Barcode: What Are Its Types?

The Aztec barcode comes in three primary formats: 

-Full Aztec code

-Compact Aztec code

Aztec Rune code.

Full Aztec Barcode

The Full Aztec barcode offers 40 symbol sizes, including modules ranging from 19 x 19 to 151 x 151. It can store up to 3067 characters of text, 3832 characters of numeric data, and 1914 characters of binary data (8-bit).

Compact Aztec Barcode

Compact Aztec barcodes are available in four symbol sizes, ranging from 15 x 15 modules to 27 x 27 modules. They can hold a maximum of 89 characters of text, 110 characters of numeric data, and 13 characters of binary data.

Aztec Rune Barcode

Aztec Runes represent compact, machine-readable marks compatible with the Aztec Code. Serving as a condensed version of the Aztec code, they convey 8 bits of data through a numerically distinct mode message. Aztec Runes consist of 256 square marks, each measuring 11 x 11 modules.

We know the types of Aztec Barcodes but do we know where these codes are used? Let’s find out. 

Aztech Barcodes: Where Are They Used?

The aztec barcode reader is capable of storing extensive data and is predominantly utilized for industrial or commercial purposes rather than consumer purposes. Some common uses of aztec barcodes include the following:

You need an online aztec barcode reader or smartphone camera to read an aztec barcode.

Aztech Barcodes: Why Do We Need These Codes?

Aztec barcodes present prominent benefits compared to 2D barcodes such as QR codes and conventional linear barcodes like UPCs. Below are several reasons presenting the necessity of Aztec barcodes.

1. High Information Capacity

Aztec barcodes have a remarkable capacity to store substantial amounts of data when compared with linear barcodes. They exhibit a high information density, enabling the storage of extensive information, including text, numerical values, and even binary data.

2. Space-Efficient Design

Despite their capacity for storing large volumes of data, Aztec barcodes maintain a compact size. This characteristic makes them ideal for applications where space is restricted, such as on product packaging or identification cards.

3. Versatility in Data Storage

Aztec barcodes possess the capability to store diverse data types, including numeric, alphanumeric, and binary data.

4. Device Compatibility

Aztec barcodes are effortlessly scannable using mobile phone cameras or dedicated barcode scanning applications. This makes them particularly well-suited for applications involving consumer-oriented technology.

5. Scalability

Aztec barcodes show flexibility in their applicability across different surfaces and materials, ranging from paper and plastic to metal. Moreover, they can be resized to accommodate various dimensions without sacrificing their efficiency in scanning and decoding.

6. Effortless Scanning with Omnidirectional Functionality

Aztec barcodes possess the capability to be scanned from any direction or orientation, showcasing their exceptional versatility.

Aztech Barcode vs QR Code: How Are They Different?

While Aztec codes and QR Codes may seem alike at first glance, their designs and functionalities are notably distinct. Each barcode type serves a distinct purpose. Let’s find out how.

1. Design and Appearance 

Upon a closer look, it becomes apparent that Aztec codes and QR Codes possess different design and visual characteristics. Aztec codes have concentric squares, whereas QR Codes utilize a square grid pattern consisting of black-and-white squares. 

2. Data Capacity and Physical Dimensions

In terms of data capacity, QR Codes surpass Aztec codes. QR Codes can accommodate up to 7,089 numeric or 4,296 alphanumeric characters, whereas Aztec codes can store a maximum of 3,832 numerical or 3,067 alphanumeric characters. However, this higher data storage capability also results in QR Codes being physically larger compared to Aztec codes.

3. Error Correction

QR Codes exhibit superior error correction capabilities compared to Aztec codes, making them more robust in real-world situations. QR Codes employ the Reed-Solomon error correction algorithm, enabling data recovery even when up to 30% of the code is damaged or obscured.

Aztec codes utilize a less complex error correction method.

4. Scanning Equipment

QR Codes are compatible with any device equipped with a camera and a QR Code scanning application. In contrast, Aztec codes require specialized equipment like laser scanners or a dedicated Aztec barcode reader to ensure accurate scanning and decoding of the pattern.

FAQ: An Introduction To Aztec Barcode

How to scan an aztec barcode?

The most popular approach for scanning Aztec barcodes involves using a camera-based barcode image reader. Typically, most 2D barcode imagers come equipped with the capability to read Aztec barcodes by default. Sometimes, there might be an application required to scan the Aztec barcodes.

How to generate an aztec barcode?

Generating this code requires an aztec barcode generator software capable of converting data into binary bits and organizing them in a predetermined pattern. This process involves translating the binary data into a sequence of small dots, typically in black and white, arranged in a square grid pattern.

Where is an aztec barcode commonly used?

The Aztec code is commonly employed in various sectors such as airline ticketing, travel documentation, and vehicle registration. Additionally, it is also used in healthcare settings for tasks like patient identification and labeling medications, samples, or other items associated with individual patients.


In conclusion, the Aztec code barcode emerges as a potent 2D barcode system gaining traction across numerous industries globally. Its notable attributes, including high data storage capacity, scalability, error correction capabilities, and compact design, position it as one of the most efficient barcode solutions available.

From marketing campaigns and event management to healthcare operations and transportation logistics, the Aztec code serves as a dependable means of securely encoding diverse information. 

We hope that this article has provided a comprehensive overview of Aztec barcodes, including their types and various applications.

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