What's New with Barcode Scanners - from "dumb peripheral to a "computer-in-a-scanner"

  • Print Article |
  • Send to a Friend |
  • |
  • Add to Google |

Barcode scanners have been with us for many decades now and have continued to evolve as general purpose computing technologies were incorporated into the latest versions of handheld barcode scanners.

Many of these improvements to barcode laser scanners and imagers were incremental in nature; thus providing us with barcode scanners that contained increased functionality at lower prices. This has allowed barcode scanners to be used in more and more applications in a wide range of industries.

Still, handheld barcode scanners were essentially "dumb" peripheral devices for data capture, much like a keyboard. Now however, with the latest evolution of handheld barcode scanners, they have leaped to become a "computer-within-a-scanner."

Before reviewing some of the recent advances in barcode scanner technologies, let’s first review some of the key features of barcode scanners. These key features include the following barcode scanner criteria:

1) data capture technology for the barcode scanner - specifically, laser barcode scanning vs imager barcode scanning,

2) symbology support for 1D, 2D and other barcode symbologies,

3) barcode scanner durability meaning retail vs industrial (or rugged scanners) grade handheld scanners and

4) barcode interface technologies including corded and cordless barcode scanner technologies.

The most basic barcode scanner and possibly the most widely used type of barcode laser scanner is one that provides laser scanning for 1D barcodes with a medium-duty plastic shell and cable that interfaces with a PC via either keyboard wedge or USB interface. Examples of these types of handheld barcode scanners would be the Motorola LS9208i barcode scanner, the Metrologic Mk9540 barcode scanner, or the Honeywell PSC QS6000 Plus barcode scanner.

On the other end of the spectrum of handheld barcode scanners, there are cordless barcode scanners, such as the Motorola (Symbol) P470 Phaser cordless barcode scanner (which are often seen at Home Depot checkout lines) or the Metrologic VoyagerBT MS9535 POS cordless barcode Scanner. The P470 cordless handheld scanner uses 2.4Ghz wireless technology (think cordless phone) while the Metrologic VoyagerBT cordless handheld scanner uses Bluetooth technology.

Historically, the use of cordless barcode scanners has been somewhat limited because of cost but this is becoming less of an issue as the price of these devices drop coupled with the recognition that the most common point of failure for a handheld barcode scanner is the cable.

Motorola has taken handheld barcode scanners to the next level the introduction of the MT2000 mobile terminal (which is really a very fancy name for a handheld cordless barcode scanner) which supports a range of standard wireless (cordless) technologies including both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802.11 technologies.

This handheld barcode scanner can not only read 1D and 2D barcodes, but can also provide data capture for DPM and images. Perhaps most surprisingly, this new handheld barcode scanner supports Windows CE making it a truly computer-in-a-scanner device. You truly now have all the computing functionality you would ever need in a handheld scanner, including the ability to key-in and view data.

Edmond Shi has worked in the computer industry since the early 1980s when he began his professional life as a software developer. Since then, Mr. Shi has published numerous articles ranging from respected academic journals to trade magazines on topics ranging from the impact of computers on organizations to computers in manufacturing organizations.

Professionally, he has worked in the mobile computing and barcoding industries since the mid 1990s with expertise in barcode printer and barcode scanner. He also held senior level management positions in software development and product development. A PhD drop-out in Computer Science, Mr. Shi did manage to obtain his MBA, as well as his MS/BS degrees in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Rate this Article:
  • Article Word Count: 595
  • |
  • Total Views: 284
  • |
  • permalink
  • Print Article |
  • Send to a Friend |
  • |
  • Add to Google |
>