According to Wikipedia a barcode is:
A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data, which shows certain datas on on certain products. Originally, barcodes represented data in the widths (lines) and the spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or 1D (1 dimensional) barcodes or symbologies. They also come in patterns of squares, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns within images termed 2D (2 dimensional) matrix codes or symbologies. Although 2D systems use symbols other than bars, they are generally referred to as barcodes as well. Barcodes can be read by optical scanners called barcode readers, or scanned from an image by special software.
While the conventional barcode looks like this:
Two firms, Bar Code Revolution [barcoderevolution.com] and D-Barcode [d-barcode.com] has made a revolutionary to the traditional barcode. They use a unique process that allows for an original design element to be integrated into a traditional barcode. While retaining the functionality of the barcodes themselves, their visual appearence are augmented with beautiful iconography or outlined in larger graphic patterns.