We the common people are quite familiar with barcodes. We see barcodes on a daily basis because they are printed on the packages of almost every consumer product. To our eyes barcodes are a series of black and white stripes. In actuality barcodes are machine readable data codes. In other words, the stripes are codes containing information related to the product. The information can be gathered by reading/scanning the barcode with a scanner.
The task of reading barcodes cannot be performed with regular computers. A device called the barcode scanner is required for this task. A barcode scanner is an electronic device which contains light source, lens and decoder circuits. It merely collects optical information in the form of pulses which is then converted to electrical signals.
Types of scanners
Barcode scanners are quite common for there is a massive need for scanning barcodes in a wide range of industries and businesses. These scanners come in different shapes and even with variant technologies. Based on the technology used, barcode scanners can be categorized into roughly 7 types:
1. Pen type readers
As the name suggests these scanners resemble pen which have a light source and photodiode. The light source and photodiode are placed at the tip of the pen. When the tip is moved across the bars the photodiode measures widths of the bars and spaces which is then converted to waveform
2. Laser Scanners
The working principle for the laser scanners is similar to the pen type scanners. As the name goes these obviously use a laser as a light source. Laser scanners are more reliable and widely accepted as the standard scanner.
3. CCD readers
Charge-Coupled Device or CCD readers are basically semiconductor devices. Hundreds of tiny sensors are placed at the tip of such scanners.
4. Camera based readers
The newest type of barcode scanners are the two dimensional imaging scanners. Obviously a camera is used to capture the picture of the barcode; the image is then digitally processed to get the information. There are also large field of view readers which are mainly used for industrial purposes.
5. Omni-directional barcode scanners
This type of scanners typically uses lasers. The advantage of these scanners is that it is not required to scan the barcode from a certain side at a certain angle. These are most common in the payment counter of the supermarkets, where products are slid over the scanner.
With the advent of smartphone technology scanning barcodes have been further made easier. All the major operating systems including Symbian, android etc. in the market offer barcode scanning.
Barcodes are usually connected with a cord to the computer via serial, parallel or USB connections. Some brands offer wireless connections as well. Barcodes and barcode scanners have made life much easier for the consumers. This system of transferring coded information is efficient and stressfree.