Extended Channel Interpretation

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Extended Channel Interpretation (ECI) is an embedded piece of information in a bar code symbol that tells the bar code reader details about the used references for encoding the data in the symbol. The bar code reader uses this information to automatically select the matching options to decode the symbol accordingly.

ECI is a symbology-independent extension of the Global Label Identifier (GLI) system in the PDF417 barcode. It allows usually unsupported national character sets such as Arabic, Greek, or Japanese to be used in barcode symbols. In theory, a barcode symbol could use several character sets by embedding several ECI codes.

As the ECI information is not intended to be part of the bar code "data," it should be transparent when the symbol is scanned. When encoding a symbol, ECI is a switch, or tick-box, to be checked, followed by a symbology-dependent ECI selection. The ECI information will be encoded in a symbology-specific codeword that the decoder will recognize and interpret accordingly.

In Basic Channel Mode, the ECI control information is not transmitted from the reader to the host system. In Extended Channel Mode, both the ECI control information and the data are transmitted to the host system.