What are Barcode Scanners?

By: System ID

A Barcode Scanner (or barcode reader) is a computer peripheral for reading barcodes printed on various surfaces. A barcode reader consists of a scanner, a decoder (either built-in or external), and a cable used to connect the reader with a computer. Additionally, nearly all barcode readers currently produced contain decoder circuitry analyzing the barcode's image data provided by the photo conductor and sending the barcode's content to the scanner's output port.

Types of Barcode Scanners: -

By Technology: -

&bull Pen type readers: Pen type readers consist of a light source and a photodiode that are placed next to each other in the tip of a pen or wand. To read a bar code, tip of the pen moves across all the bars in a steady even motion.

&bull Laser scanners: Laser barcode scanners work the same way as pen type readers except that they use a laser beam as the light source and typically employ either a reciprocating mirror or a rotating prism to scan the laser beam back and forth across the bar code.

&bull CCD Readers: CCD (Charge Coupled Device) readers (also referred to as LED scanner) use an array of hundreds of tiny light sensors lined up in a row in the head of the reader. The important difference between a CCD reader and a pen or laser scanner is that the CCD reader is measuring emitted ambient light from the bar code whereas pen or laser scanners are measuring reflected light of a specific frequency originating from the scanner itself.

&bull Camera-Based Readers: 2D imaging scanners are the fourth and newest type of bar code reader currently available. They use a small video camera to capture an image of a bar code. The reader then uses sophisticated digital image processing techniques to decode the bar code.

By Housing: -

&bull Handheld scanner: With a handle and typically a trigger button for switching on the light source.

&bull Pen scanner (or wand scanner): A pen-shaped scanner that is swiped.

&bull Stationary scanner: Wall- or table-mounted scanners that the barcode is passed under or beside. These are commonly found at the checkout counters of supermarkets and other retailers.

&bull Fixed position scanner: An industrial barcode reader used to identify products during manufacture or logistics. Most often used on conveyer tracks to identify cartons or pallets which need to be routed to another process or shipping location.

&bull PDA scanner: A PDA with a built-in barcode reader or attached barcode scanner e.g. Grabba.

Barcode Applications for Consumers: -

While barcode readers are typically used in retail, warehouses, and industry, inexpensive barcode readers open up a number of applications for individual consumers.

While cell phone cameras are not optimal for many traditional barcodes, there are 2D barcodes optimized for cell phones. These open up a number of potential applications for consumers:

? Movies: DVD/VHS movie catalogs

? Music: CD catalogs, play MP3 when scanned

? Book catalogs

? Groceries, Nutrition information, making shopping lists when you use the last of an item, etc.

? Personal Property inventory (for insurance and other purposes)

? Cataloging property stored in boxes in the garage, basement, attic, self-storage units, etc for easy retrieval, selling surplus on e-bay, etc

? Calling cards: 2D barcodes can store contact information for importing.

? Brick and mortar shopping: Portable scanners can be used to record items of interest for looking up online when you get home.

? Coupon management: weeding expired coupons.

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