Data Matrix

2D Symbologies

Symbology Data Matrix

A Data Matrix code is a two-dimensional barcode that enables the storage and retrieval of data in a compact grid. It consists of black and white squares arranged in a matrix pattern – typically square, although rectangular patterns also exist.

A Data Matrix barcode reader uses image processing technology to identify and decode the patterns within the code.

A key advantage of Data Matrix barcodes is their ability to store a large amount of data in a small space. They can encode up to 2335 alphanumeric characters, 3116 numerical characters, or 1556 bytes of information.

Because of their larger data storage capabilities, Data Matrix barcodes (and QR codes) are set to replace UPC/EAN barcodes through the GS1 Sunrise 2027 initiative. Both serve traditional product identification purposes but can store far more information compared to UPC and EAN barcodes.


Data Matrix barcodes can be decoded using any camera-based mobile device, but you will need specialist software. The in-built QR code scanners on Android and iOS phones won’t scan Data Matrix codes.

Scandit’s barcode scanning software supports all major barcode types, including Data Matrix codes.

Regarding Data Matrix barcodes specifically, the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK:

  • Speeds up the localization and decoding of Data Matrix codes, including reading large codes with perspective and non-linear distortions.
  • Decodes inverse Data Matrix barcodes that use inverted colors.
  • Identifies GS1 codes to signal that they contain GS1 data and offers the option to parse/extract the GS1 data components.
  • Enables scanning of Data Matrix codes engraved or etched into metal via its direct part marking (DPM) mode.


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Data Matrix Barcode application areas

Data Matrix barcodes have a high data density. They can store a large amount of data in a small space, making them ideal for applications where the encoding of large volumes of information is required, but space is limited. Application examples include small electronic components, product labels and packaging. In fact, the US Electronics Industries Alliance (EIA) recommends Data Matrix barcodes for labeling small electronic components.

Data Matrix codes are typically used for tracking and tracing items in logistics, manufacturing, electronics, retail and government. They are the only 2D codes endorsed by GS1 Healthcare for healthcare trade items.

Because of their compact size, readability and reliability, automotive, aerospace and electronic manufacturers often use Data Matrix barcodes for direct part marking. The permanently etched barcode enables components and equipment to be easily identified.

Characteristics of a Data Matrix barcode:

  • One of the smaller and more reliable barcodes.
  • Encodes various characters, including all 256 ASCII characters, ISO characters, and EBCDIC characters.
  • Adaptable in size (smallest being 2.5 mm) and supports variable length data content.
  • Its size and encoded capacity are independent, allowing the choice of a lot of different matrix sizes.
  • Supports encodings and sizes defined in the newest Data Matrix ECC 200 standard.
  • Robust error correction capabilities and ability to withstand up to 60% of damage yet still be readable.
  • Different error correction levels can be defined.
  • Standardized use through the ISO/IEC 16022:2006 international standard.

DATA MATRIX Variations:

  • Symbology Micro-Data Matrix Micro-Data Matrix Used on products at the point of sale

Data Matrix code FAQs:

When were Data Matrix codes invented?

Data Matrix codes were originally created by International Data Matrix Inc (ID Matrix), which merged with RVSI/Acuity CiMatrix, and was subsequently acquired by Siemens AG in 2005 and Microscan Systems in 2008. Today, Data Matrix code standards are public domain for many applications and are covered by several ISO standards.

How can you read a Data Matrix code?

Although it relies on an app, you can read a Data Matrix code using a camera-enabled device. The Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK supports scanning Data Matrix codes on iOS and Android, as well as the PhoneGap and Titanium platforms.

2D dedicated barcode scanners or an omnidirectional scanner can also scan or decode a Data Matrix code.

Can iPhones scan Data Matrix codes?

In theory, Data Matrix codes can be read by any iPhone equipped with a camera, but you’ll need specialist barcode scanning apps, such as Scandit Express. You can’t just use the built-in camera app or a scanner from the App Store.

What is the difference between a QR code and a Data Matrix code?

Data Matrix barcodes have an L-shape as their finder pattern, while QR codes have a finder pattern consisting of three square structures placed at the top right, top left, and bottom left corners.

Both QR codes and Data Matrix barcodes are two-dimensional. However, Data Matrix codes are physically smaller than QR codes, so offer higher data density at a very small size. This makes them ideal when space is limited, for example, for marking individual product parts such as electronic components.

By comparison, QR codes are larger and can contain more data than Data Matrix codes. Because QR codes were invented in Japan, they can also include Kanji, and other multi-byte character sets. Data Matrix codes on the other hand can only encode information from numeric and alphanumeric characters.