In the first part of this series of blog posts on unusual ways to use the barcode, we were presenting a company that uses barcode technology to brew coffee. If not “unexpected,” that application surely came in as a new and fresh way of revisiting the long-lasting technology. This time we encroach a little bit more on the unconventional land. How about tagging your children to keep track of them?

School’s out… Where are your children?

A home services company based in France called A2micile (pronounced “à domicile”, litteraly, “at home” in English) recently introduced a barcode system called A2 Kids Alert that can be used to help keep track of young children when they are picked up or ride the bus at the end of each school day.

With the majority of cases of kidnapping in the developed world being the result of non-custodial relatives rather than strangers, making sure that only properly authorized persons can retrieve a child from school has become a steady source of concern for many schools. Schools recognize they have a major responsibility to ensure children’s safety and security as they leave the school grounds, but making sure only the right people can pick up a child, or even that each child boards the right bus, can be a confusing and time-intensive process for busy support staff. Enter the humble barcode…

By assigning a matching set of barcodes to each child as well as each authorized parent or caregiver, school systems can make it much easier for their staff to make sure each child leaves only with the authorized person or boards the correct bus.

The A2 Kids Alert, and similar systems that have been developed for educational applications, contains the three basic elements of any barcode data system – a barcode generator, one or more barcode readers, and the software to power the system. In the case of school children, barcodes can be produced on plastic key tags, as school ID badges that can be worn on clothing or on a lanyard, or even as a sticker that can be applied to a child’s school bag. Authorized parents and guardians will receive a matching code. A simple check-in procedure using a barcode reader can then be used, and the system also automatically creates a data trail.

In turn, school buses can be equipped with handheld or mounted barcode scanners that scan each child’s barcode as he or she boards the bus. If a child happens to step onto the wrong bus, the bus driver can quickly identify and correct the problem before the bus departs.

Would you consider using the barcode technology to track your children? Have you ever tried it? Tell us about it.

Don’t miss our upcoming blog post on unusual barcode uses: Oven grill meets barcode.