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Barcode Scanner World Glossary Terms


Barcode Scanner

A barcode reader (or barcode scanner) is an electronic device for reading printed barcodes. Like a flatbed scanner, it consists of a light source, a lens and a light sensor translating optical impulses into electrical ones. Additionally, nearly all barcode readers contain decoder circuitry analyzing the barcode's image data provided by the sensor and sending the barcode's content to the scanner's output port.


Goal for this page
:
This page was designed to not only inform, but also to allow one to quickly go to the scanner that the information is talking about.  So if you feel like the description represents the type of barcode scanner you need, then just click on the black bold/underlined heading and it will take you to the category that has the scanners with that feature. 


Barcode Scanner Type:

  • 2D Barcode Scanner-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. Video cameras use the same CCD technology as in a CCD bar code reader except that instead of having a single row of sensors, a video camera has hundreds of rows of sensors arranged in a two dimensional array so that they can generate an image. 
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.

Sample 2D barcode (PDF417):
 
An up and coming barcode that 2D barcode scanners are most commonly scanning are QR Codes.  A QR code is also known as a quick response code. It is a type of 2D barcode that has been more commonly used in marketing. QR codes are read by mobile phones that have a QR code reader application.  The purpose of QR codes is to give a consumer additional information about the product, an event, or even a promotion. Businesses are using QR codes in billboards, print medias and even on product packages. Realtors are using QR codes on business cards to lead potential buyers to their website and listings. Retailers and restaurants are using QR codes to be more personable with their customers, offer discounts, as well as lead their customers to their social media pages, like Facebook and Twitter.  QR codes are easily made through QR code generator sites, and can be placed on anything your heart desires.

Sample QR Code:


  • CCD Barcode Scanner-  CCD readers (also referred to as LED scanner- excellent for indoor use, no moving parts, less expensive) use an array of hundreds of tiny light sensors lined up in a row in the head of the reader.[1] Each sensor measures the intensity of the light immediately in front of it. Each individual light sensor in the CCD reader is extremely small and because there are hundreds of sensors lined up in a row, a voltage pattern identical to the pattern in a bar code is generated in the reader by sequentially measuring the voltages across each sensor in the row. 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.
  • Laser Barcode Scanner-  Laser scanners (excellent for outdoor use, multiple moving parts, more expensive) 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.[1] As with the pen type reader, a photodiode is used to measure the intensity of the light reflected back from the bar code. In both pen readers and laser scanners, the light emitted by the reader is tuned to a specific frequency and the photodiode is designed to detect only this modulated light of the same frequency.
  • Linear Imager Barcode Scanner-  Scanners designed to scan bar codes 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. 
Sample 1D or Linear Barcode:

  • Long Range Barcode Scanner-  scanners designed to scan from a few feet away from the barcode, instead of being restricted to having to be within a few inches of the barcode to scan accurately.  A Long Range Scanners can  scan anywhere from 2-30 (1-13 meters) depending on the specs specific to the scanner, and the size of the barcode.  Some scanners have been recognized as Extra Long Range Scanners to denote those that can scan up to the 30 feet range without compromising data integrity. These scanners are commonly employed in warehouse, rugged outdoors, or any environment in which getting only a few inches from a barcode can prove difficult.
  • No Reader Barcode Scanner- are mobile handheld computers that do not have scanner hardware incorporated to scan 1D (linear) or 2D barcodes.  These are commonly used for the purpose of collecting data by data entry from the user into the handheld.  The information is either or both collected/stored on the handheld and/or transmitted live to a data collection terminal.  An sample application for which a handheld computer is used for, is when an officer checks meters and creates tickets for violations.    
  • Omni Directional Barcode Scanner-  uses "series of straight or curved scanning lines of varying directions in the form of a starburst (which is why this type of scanning is preferred for POS-busy retail locations with many products to scan quickly), a lissajous pattern, or other multiangle arrangement are projected at the symbol and one or more of them will be able to cross all of the symbol's bars and spaces, no matter what the orientation."[2]
Omni-directional scanners almost all use a laser. Unlike the simpler single-line laser scanners, they produce a pattern of beams in varying orientations allowing them to read barcodes presented to it at different angles. Most of them use a single rotating polygonal mirror and an arrangement of several fixed mirrors to generate their complex scan patterns.

Omni-directional scanners are most familiar through the horizontal scanners in supermarkets, where packages are slid across a glass or sapphire window. There are a range of different omni-directional units available which can be used for differing scanning applications, ranging from retail type applications with the barcodes read only a few centimetres away from the scanner to industrial conveyor scanning where the unit can be a couple of meters away or more from the code.

Omni-directional scanners are also better at reading poorly printed, wrinkled, or even torn barcodes.

  • RFID ScannerRadio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of an object (typically referred to as an RFID tag) applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.
Most RFID tags contain at least two parts. One is an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating a radio-frequency (RF) signal, and other specialized functions. The second is an antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal.

There are generally three types of RFID tags: active RFID tags, which contain a battery and can transmit signals autonomously, passive RFID tags, which have no battery and require an external source to provoke signal transmission and battery assisted passive (BAP) which require an external source to wake up but have significant higher forward link capability providing great read range.

Today, RFID is used in enterprise supply chain management to improve the efficiency of inventory tracking and management.

Sample EPC RFID tag used by Wal-Mart:

Barcode Scanner Connections:

  • Acoustical Barcode Scanner-  barcode scanners capable of transmitting data via the phone.  Commonly used acoustical barcode scanners are the telxon and msi units.  But Cipherlab has come out with an acoustical barcode scanner that's superior performance and size is quickly becoming the preferred acoustical supplement to the telxon or msi.
  • Batch Barcode Scanner-  barcode scanners that can collect and store data on the unit.  This proves useful in an environment where the user needs to scan data or barcodes beyond wireless range or where there is no wireless capability.  The scanner stores the data and then transmitts the data once it's within wireless range or is placed in the designated cradle to transmitt data. With batch capability, the user is simply not limited on geographical range, but is limited on how much data the scanner can store (usually most scanners can be upgraded with data storage anywhere from 2MB-10MB).
  • Cordless Barcode Scanner-  Cordless Barcode Scanners can transmit wirelessly by use radio frequencies (similar to cordless phones) to send scanned information back to a computer-attached base station. Chief criteria for selecting a cordless barcode scanner are range and battery life. RF Cordless barcode scanners can heighten the functional flexibility of use by being able to access and scan packages during shipping and receiving applications, that otherwise might be difficult doing when the scanner is corded.
  • PS2 Keyboard Wedge Scanner-  PS/2 cables are connected to the host computer in a Y formation, the PS/2 keyboard port with its first end, to the keyboard with its second, and to the barcode reader with its third end. The barcode characters are then received by the host computer as if they came from its keyboard decoded and converted to keyboard input within the scanner housing. This makes it easy to interface the bar code reader to any application that is written to accept keyboard input.
 
  • Radio Frequency (RF) Barcode Scanner-  Cordless Barcode Scanners can transmit wirelessly by use radio frequencies (similar to cordless phones) to send scanned information back to a computer-attached base station. Chief criteria for selecting a cordless barcode scanner are range and battery life. RF Cordless barcode scanners can heighten the functional flexibility of use by being able to access and scan packages during shipping and receiving applications, that otherwise might be difficult doing when the scanner is corded.
  • RS-232 (Serial) Barcode Scanner-  Early barcode scanners, of all formats, almost universally used the then-common RS232 serial interface. This was an electrically simple means of connection and the software to access it is also relatively simple, although needing to be written for specific computers and their serial ports.

Barcode Scanner Form:

  • Hands Free Barcode Scanner-  Hands Free barcode scanners are simply any scanner that does not require to be operated directly by the user to scan barcodes.  These scanners are stationary scanners, which means they are 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.
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.[1] To read a bar code, the tip of the pen moves across the bars in a steady motion. The photodiode measures the intensity of the light reflected back from the light source and generates a waveform that is used to measure the widths of the bars and spaces in the bar code. Dark bars in the bar code absorb light and white spaces reflect light so that the voltage waveform generated by the photo diode is a representation of the bar and space pattern in the bar code. This waveform is decoded by the scanner in a manner similar to the way Morse code dots and dashes are decoded.

Other Barcode Scanner Terms:

  • Barcode- (also bar code) is an optical machine-readable representation of data. Originally, bar codes 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.
The first use of barcodes was to label railroad cars, but they were not commercially successful until they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task in which they have become almost universal. Their use has spread to many other roles as well, tasks that are generically referred to as Auto ID Data Capture (AIDC). Systems such as attempting to make inroads in the AIDC market, but the simplicity, universality and low cost of barcodes has limited the role of these other systems. It costs about US$0.005 to implement a barcode compared to passive RFID which still costs about US$0.07 to US$0.30 per tag.[1]

Barcodes can be read by optical scanners called barcode readers, or scanned from an image by special software.
  • Handheld Computer-  barcode scanners than have a sophisticated operating system (Windows, Toshiba Dos, etc) embedded in it, allowing for enhanced and customized use.
  • QR Barcode-


References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcode_reader, 27 June 2009.
http://www.qrcodescanning.com/index.html. 

Special Thanks!!
A special thanks to Regina and her high school science technology class (in particular, Ben) for providing us with reference material on QR barcodes to add to our glossary.