Last Updated: 22/03/2022

Barcode Scanners

Barcode scanner also known as barcode reader is handheld input device that is used to scan the information contained in barcodes. Barcode scanner consist a decoder (either built-in or external) and cable that is used to connect the reader with computer.

Barcode scanner is also known as point of sale (POS) scanners. Barcode scanner is hardware device that reads the barcode and converts it into numbers and letters. Barcode scanner is connected to the computer to store the numbers and letters that are to be decoded (using a cable via the serial port or the keyboard wedge). A decoder is present in the barcode scanner that is used to decode the barcode images with the help of the sensor.

Barcode scanner (or barcode reader) consists of laser source and a photo sensor. Barcode reader decodes the barcode into electrical signals and gives to the computer. Barcode scanner software (installed in the computer) helps to convert the electrical signals (received from barcode scanner) to numbers and letters.

To read the barcodes through computer, the barcode data must be capture and decoded into a data format which is computer readable. The device that is used to read or capture the barcode information and sends it to the decoder is known as the barcode reader or barcode scanner. There are mainly three functional parts of barcode reader which are the illumination system, sensor/converter and the decoder.

There are different types of barcode readers available in the market. Some of the commonly used barcode readers are:

  • Pen Type Scanner
  • Laser Scanner
  • CCD Scanner
  • Camera Based Scanner
  • Handheld Scanner
  • Stationary Scanner
  • PDA Scanner
  • Automatic Scanner
  • Omni Directional Scanner
Pen Type Scanner
Pen Type Scanner

Pen type barcode scanner (also known as wand barcode scanner) consists of light source and photodiode that are placed next to each other in the tip of a pen. To read a barcode, the person holding the pen must move the tip of it across the bars at a relatively uniform speed.

Pen barcode scanner is small stick that looks just like a small pen. The pen style barcode reader consists of an LED light and a photodiode in its tip. The user passes this tip over a barcode and the LED light illuminates the black and white bars. The photodiode measures the reflection of light and is able to determine width and color (white or black) of each bar. This allows for a digital reading of the barcode and information is transmitted to another unit for processing.

Barcode scanner or barcode reader is a device that is used to scan the printed barcodes. A barcode consists of series of parallel adjacent bars and spaces that are decoded with the intensity of the light reflected by them. When the scanning is initialized, the scanner lens reads the entire code with the help of the light source and converts the code into 0s and 1s. The space reflects the light whereas the dark bar absorbs the light. This is called digitalizing. Thus decoding is done for the barcodes and the result is sent to the output device.

Pen type barcode scanner is specially designed for durable, inexpensive use by those users who want to quickly scan barcode images on packages or other items. In pen type scanner the photodiode measures the intensity of the light reflected back from the light source as the tip crosses each bar and space in the printed code. The photodiode generates a waveform that is used to measure the widths of the bars and spaces in the barcodes.

Dark bars in the barcodes 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 barcodes. This waveform is decoded by the pen-type scanner.

Laser Scanner
Laser Scanner

Laser scanner is a type of barcode scanner that scans barcode from about 6 to 24 inches away. Some of the long range laser barcode scanners has ability to read barcode data from 2 to 8 feet away. This barcode reader works in same way as the pen type scanner except that the light source in a laser barcode scanner is laser beam.

Laser barcode reader uses laser beam as their light source. In laser scanners, a laser beam is shot at a mirror inside the actual unit. This mirror makes a movement so that the laser sweeps across the barcodes in a straight line. This light then reflects back to a diode, which measures the level of reflection. This reflection is translated into a digital signal to readout the barcode. Laser scanners can either be mounted in a scanning unit or be part of a handheld unit.

Advantages of laser barcode scanner:

  • Laser reader is more accurate as compared to other barcode reader because it uses rotating mirrors that reflect the light back and forth on the barcode label. This advantage allows laser barcode scanner to scan the barcode around 500 times or more per second thus reduce the error in capturing the binary digital signals.
  • Another advantage of laser scanner is that laser scanner easily works from a short distance away from the barcode label.
  • Laser barcode scanner quickly scans the barcodes and saves your valuable time.
CCD Scanner
CCD Scanner

Charged couple device (CCD) barcode scanner is one of the most widely used scanners to read barcode data. This barcode reader uses an array of hundreds tiny light sensors that arranged in a row in the head of the reader to read the signals from barcode.

CCD scanner or LED scanner is handheld barcode scanner that must be held an inch over the barcodes itself. Unlike pen type or laser type scanner, CCD barcode scanner measure ambient light instead of reflected light. Each light sensor in CCD scanner measures the intensity of the light. The light sensor in CCD scanner is extremely small because there are hundreds of sensors lined up in a row.

The difference between CCD barcode scanner and pen type or laser scanner is that the CCD scanner measures emitted ambient light from the barcodes whereas pen or laser scanners are measures reflected light of specific frequency originating from the scanner itself. CCD Scanner is mainly used in retail sales.

Advantages of CCD barcode Scanner:

  • CCD scanners are inexpensive compared to other barcodes scanners.
  • CCD barcode scanner can easily read slightly damaged or wrinkled barcode labels.
  • CCD scanner has higher scanning ability than the other barcode readers.
  • Since the CCD scanners do not use laser beams, so they are not associated with any safety specifications.
  • CCD scanners don’t have any moving parts. So there is less chance of damage or failure of scanner.
Camera Based Scanner
Camera Based Scanner

Camera barcode scanner (also knows as 2D scanner) is newest type of barcode scanner that uses camera and image processing techniques to read the barcodes. Video camera scanner uses small video camera with CCD barcode scanner. In video camera scanner the rows of sensors are arranged in 2D array to generate image.

Some of the barcodes contain white and black spaces in two-dimensional (2D) array. These 2D barcodes cannot be read by standard barcode scanners. To read these barcode, 2D camera image scanner is used. Camera image scanner consists of hundreds of tiny lights like the CCD scanner, but these are arranged in multiple rows. The lights flash onto the barcode and take picture of barcode, which is then sent to software as a digital signal and software decodes the barcode information.

2D barcode scanner is latest type of barcode reader that uses small camera to read barcode image. 2D scanner uses an advanced digital image processing techniques to decode the barcode. 2D barcode readers can read barcode at faster rates and can be used for industrial conveyor scanning.

Every handheld 2D barcode scanner uses an image sensor to scan the barcode. This barcode image is then run through a software decoder program that resides in the scanner's firmware. The software decoder program has the ability to locate the barcode based on barcode's unique characteristics. This system allows the user to hold the scanner in the same position for every barcode no matter what is the position of the barcode.

Some of the key features of camera based barcode scanner:

  • 2D barcode scanner can easily read and decode 1D as well as 2D barcode images.
  • 2D barcode scanner easily read barcode in any direction.
  • 2D barcode scanner has fast scanning ability.
Omni Directional Scanner
Omni Directional Scanner

Omni directional scanner is a type of barcode scanner that reads barcode in any direction. Omni directional scanner uses laser beams as a light source. Omni directional barcode scanner consists of fixed mirrors and a rotating mirror present to generate patterns of laser beams.

An Omni Directional scanner (also known as a Projection Barcode Scanner) is same as the laser barcode scanner. Like laser barcode scanners, Omni directional reader can also read data from greater distances. Omni directional barcode scanner can scan poorly printed, torn or wrinkled barcode images.

Since the Omni directional barcode scanner read barcode images in any direction, so that the speed of barcode scanning process is increased. Omni directional barcode scanner is mainly used in retail businesses.

Omni directional barcode scanner uses series of straight or curved scanning lines. Omni directional reader produces pattern of beams in varying orientations and read barcode that are present at different angles. Most of the Omni directional barcode scanner uses single rotating polygonal mirror and an arrangement of several fixed mirrors to generate complex scanning patterns.

The working procedure of Omni directional scanner is same as the laser barcode scanner. Omni directional barcode scanner contains several mirrors and other reflective devices to transform one laser line into many and read barcode at different angles.

Since Omni directional barcode scanners read barcode image regardless of their orientation, so they enhanced the speed of barcode scanning process. Barcode Omni directional scanner read barcode that are away from few inches and also for reading distant barcode like those on industrial conveyors.

Handheld Scanner
Handheld Scanner

Handheld scanner is a device that is used to read barcode images. Handheld barcode scanners are wireless. While the handheld barcode scanner is moved across the barcode, the reflected light is converted to electrical signals through a photocell present in handheld scanner.

Handheld barcode reader is scanner that is held in the hand of the user. Most of the handheld barcode scanners are designed just like a handgun, with grip and trigger to activate the scanning process.

Handheld scanner is typically made from 1/2" stainless steel tubing or from plastic. The handheld scanner can be easily moved by the user's hand.

There are mainly four types of handheld barcode readers that are pen type scanner, laser scanner, camera-based scanner and CCD scanner.

The pen type barcode scanner works using diodides that measure the intensity of light that is reflected. The dark bars of the barcode absorb light while the white spaces reflect light. Laser handheld barcode scanner work like as pen type scanner, but they capture full image, rather than the entire code at once.

Laser handheld barcode scanner can simply be placed over the barcode and by pressing the button, the barcode is scanned instantly. Laser handheld barcode scanner uses reciprocating mirrors or rotating prisms to capture the barcode data.

CCD barcode scanner uses an array of hundreds of tiny light sensors that lined up in row in the head of the barcode scanner. Camera based barcode scanner uses camera and image processing techniques to decode the barcode image.

Handheld barcode scanners are most widely used in the retail industry, manufacturing companies, hospitals etc. Barcode scanner helps you increase productivity and improve the business efficiency of the day-to-day business process.

Stationary Scanner
Stationary Scanner

Stationary scanner is type of barcode scanner that is mounted in housing. Stationary barcode scanner can be placed on a fixed position. As the barcode decodes, the data it is immediately available for further processing.

Barcode scanner is a device which is used to read barcode. A barcode reader consists of an illumination source, decoder and sensor. An illumination source is used to illuminate the bars and spaces of the barcode. The black bars absorb light from the source and white spaces reflect it. The sensor detects the reflected light from the barcode and generates a signal of varied voltage that represents the intensity of reflection. A decoder with specific software decodes the signal into a readable text formats.

Barcode scanner is also called as price scanner or point-of-sale (POS) scanner. Stationary barcode scanner is device used to capture and read information contained in barcode. Barcode reader contain scanner, decoder (either built-in or external) and cable. Stationary barcode reader captures and translates the barcode images into numbers or letters.

Barcode scanners can be connected to computer through keyboard port, serial port, or an interface device that is called wedge. The stationary barcode scanner converts the light energy into electrical energy, which is then converted into data by the decoder and forwarded to computer.

Laser barcode scanner is either handheld scanner or stationary scanner. It uses mirrors and lenses to scan the barcode images. Laser scanner reads barcode upto 24 inches away. The barcode scanning speed of laser scanner is up to 500 scans per second. Some of the long-range laser scanners are capable to read barcode up to 30 feet away.

PDA Scanner
PDA Scanner

PDA barcode scanner is a type of barcode scanner that is used to read barcode. When any item is scan through PDA barcode scanner then the scanner reads bars, spaces and lines of barcode so that the barcode data is converted into a readable form. In PDA barcode scanner the PDA devices are combined with an integrated barcode scanner.

PDA barcode scanner provides beneficial solution for mobile data collection in offices, hospitals, manufacturing companies and other commercial sectors.

In PDA barcode scanner, PDA device is attached to barcode scanner. PDA barcode reader easily plugged into computer port to read the barcode data. PDA barcode scanners are also known as mobile computers, portable data terminals (PDTs), portable data entry terminals, handheld computers and pocket computers. PDA barcode reader can scan barcode ID, location, date and time stamp and many more.

One of the most striking features of PDA barcode scanner is that it can be easily synchronized with different computer systems, printers and other applications. Since the PDA barcode readers are wireless, they can easily connect with other computers to track and update inventory products.

Areas of application of PDA barcode scanner:

  • Asset Management
  • Inventory Control
  • Stocktaking
  • Fields Sales Force Mobility
  • Job Tracking and more
  • Retail Business etc.
Automatic Scanner
Automatic Scanner

An automatic barcode scanner is a device that can read the barcode data at high speed up to 50,000/hour. Barcode contains the series of parallel adjacent bars and spaces which are decoded through the intensity of light that are reflected by them. When the scanning process is initialized, the automatic barcode scanner reads the barcode data with the help of the light source and converts the barcode data into 0s and 1s.

An automatic reader contains an internal decoder and cable, which are connected to the computer to read the barcode images. Automatic barcode scanner uses light source, lens and photo conductor that translate optical impulses into electrical signals. Automatic barcode scanner has decoder circuit which read the barcode data that is provided by the photo conductor of scanner. This barcode data is send to the scanner output port.

An automatic barcode scanner is an electronic device that is used to read the barcode data. Automatic barcode scanner connected to computer through a serial or keyboard port, or an interface device that is called wedge.

Barcode reader helps to increase the working performance of small to large business organization. Barcode scanners are of mainly two types i.e. bull contact barcode scanners and bull non-contact barcode scanners. The bull contact barcode scanners are held in hands. Bull contact barcode scanner read the barcode data only when the barcode either touches the barcode scanner or is is very close to barcode scanner.

Bull non contact barcode scanner uses laser beam to read the barcode data. Bull non contact barcode scanners come in both type i.e. handheld barcode scanner and fixed position barcode scanner.

Fixed position Scanner
PDA Scanner

Fixed position barcode scanner is the types of barcode scanner which read barcode images only if when the barcode is place in the front of the scanner. Fixed position barcode scanner is mainly used in manufacturing and distribution industry.

Fixed position scanner is used where barcode is move in the front of the scanner. Fixed-position barcode scanner used in grocery store, clothing store etc.

Most of the people use both types of barcode scanners according to their needs. Fixed position scanner is used for those stores where the items can be passed over them in quick succession.

Fixed-position scanner is high performance barcode scanner that is specially designed in manufacturing market .

The optics in the fixed position barcodes scanners are omni or multidirectional over limited range of distance. As units move within optical range, the information on the barcodes image is read by the barcode scanner. Fixed position barcode scanning device is mainly used in packaging industry, warehousing industry and certain retail businesses like grocery stores.

Fixed position barcode scanners are in fixed position that read barcodes as they go on conveyor. Barcodes scanner consists of code reader and decoder. The scanners are connected to computer to read the barcodes data.