How Blockchain could replace GTIN, UPC, and Barcodes

Whenever you checkout at a grocery store, your cashier will scan the barcodes of your items and their prices are automatically added to the total.

The tech is rather simple. Each barcode scanned is equivalent to some unique sequence of numbers that exists as the ID of the product.

That ID (aka UPC or Universal Product Code) is used to lookup the product’s name, price, weight, and other data from the store’s local database.

Additionally, that UPC exists in the global scope as well. For example, a specific banana has the same UPC in every store across the world.

But, how can the stores know they’re not going to choose a UPC that’s already in use by apples?

How can interoperability exist between brands?

What about other products like books or shirts?

Enter, Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN).

UPC was the original, but it’s successor GTIN covers a lot more.

The GTIN standard has incorporated the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), International Standard Music Number (ISMN), International Article Number (which includes the European Article Number and Japanese Article Number) and some Universal Product Codes (UPCs), into a universal number space.


In order to ensure that there are no collisions, individual brands register for a Company Prefix that they can use to denominate all products under.

Specifically, GTIN is managed by a centralized company called GS1 that approves and manages the entire GTIN database.

Blockchain was made for this

So, GTIN is a numeral based standard that requires a central trust to regulate that users don’t interfere with each other’s namespace.

In the same way that ENS allows for a trustless registrar for domain names, a blockchain solution for allowing companies to register and manage the product information within their portfolio while simultaneously preventing conflicting usage and unsanctioned modifications.

For example: if I wanted to register my product with a GTIN, I need to pay GS1 every year for the Company Prefix so I could create GTIN’s within its scope.

Instead, using blockchain, I could use my wallet to transact directly with a smart contract to create a new product GTIN as a 100% unique UUID and manage the metadata associated with it directly.

I would be able to create a product GTIN for the cost of a transaction fee, add pricing data, name, and even logistics data to the public blockchain without ever paying a middle man.

Then, I would print my products with a QR code of its blockchain address.

Graciously, I’m assuming for international tech support for QR code product scanners that interact with the blockchain, but hey we’ve switched before and we can do it again. Progress isn’t painless.


Star Wars meets Blockchain: The Mandalorian and Interplanetary Chain Code

Recently, Disney+ launched a new series to build on the Star Wars universe called The Mandalorian. It follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter (think Boba Fett) on his adventures tracking down various characters for their bounties.

During a meeting with his handler in trying to acquire new bounties, the Mandalorian makes mention of “chain code” in the terms of taking on a vague underworld contract.

Chain code has never been discussed or defined in the Star Wars universe and the show doesn’t explain it at all, but I firmly believe that they are referring to blockchain (and you will too).

Chain code is code run on the blockchain

That’s the literal name of it IRL.

Also called Smart Contracts or dApps, chain code refers to any code that lives on a blockchain and does stuff automatically.

A great example of this would be to, say, put bounty money in escrow that would automatically be released when the subject is captured and returned.

It allows the bounty hunter to feel secure that payment would come through when terms are met.

Blockchain is the solution for interplanetary transactions

If I make a deal on Coruscant to deliver a prisoner to Naboo, I wouldn’t want to wait or rely on intergalactic transmissions to ensure payment. It would make more sense to confirm against a node (computer) on Naboo that has a copy of the chain code.

Since blockchains are immutable, append-only ledgers that are distributed identically across the galaxy, I can rest assured knowing that I will get payed for my bounty from the chain code and that my handler will be notified of the hand off.

If I were using standard centralized servers, I couldn’t guarantee that my handler didn’t delete or alter the contract – or that the government didn’t seize the assets and shut it all down.

And on top of all that, intergalactic communication take a while even at the speed of light. This distance requires asynchronous systems to have any type of reliability; otherwise I’d be waiting hours for communications to confirm.

In short, chain code via blockchain is the only reasonable solution for bounty hunting baby yodas.

Unity Blockchain – Democracy without Dollars

What if you could instantly pull live stats about voter positions – to immediately retrieve the pro/anti numbers for any given issue or even legislation.

As a voter, I would prefer to set my positions and have the legislation check against the data in decision making rather than continually comment on everything about how I feel.

I want to mark down where I stand on gun control, birth control, minimum wage, net neutrality, war, etc almost like a voter profile instead of being considered a blank slate every time new legislation appears.

To take it further, this profile could even be used to automatically cast my vote on issues – particularly if they are simple.

The Blockchain

Blockchain technology allows us to continually maintain all of these voting profiles without the need for a centralized server system or single point of failure.

For the sake of accessibility, this platform would utilize widespread master nodes that would house the entire blockchain while smaller nodes could simply interface and signal to the master nodes – even just by using a mobile app.

The blockchain would also handle adding new voting positions as well as smart contracts – perhaps even building on top of ethereum architecture.


Voter fraud is the first issue. It’s a classic tech problem in how to preserve unique sessions. How can we truly confirm that a single voter profile is attached to a single verified voter?

The second issue is blockchain maintenance. How do we encourage the constant use of master nodes? The typical answer is to throw a cryptocurrency in the mix and call it a day, but introducing money into this will likely not be healthy. Perhaps the government itself could maintain master nodes. This position could also help resolve voter fraud.

Adding new smart contracts and new voting positions to the blockchain presents its own challenges as this would ideally be a completely democratic system, but at the same time we need to control bloat from entering the blockchain. For new positions, perhaps signals are sent from smaller nodes in unison until a consensus happens at which triggers the new position to be added. The position can then be selected in individual voter profiles.