Buying things from a retail store has never been easier or quicker with the help of barcode technology. In June 1974, the first barcode appeared on a pack of Wrigley Company Chewing Gum. Today, barcodes can be found in almost any product or asset. Starting from retail stores to renting a car, attending major events, flying and even going to the doctor, barcodes are common in so many parts of our lives that it is easy to overlook the technology that has completely transformed so many industries.
So how does a barcode scanner work?
To make the barcode technology work, the two most important requirements are the barcode and the barcode scanner. The most common type of barcode is a scannable code with a numeric counterpart at the bottom. It features a pattern of black and white parallel lines. There are also other barcodes such as 2D QR codes. Barcode scanners are able to read the barcode extremely fast and feed that information to a computer or a checkout terminal, which can identify them immediately using a product database. Typically the decoded information of the scanned item is displayed on a screen such as a mobile phone, laptop or PC. So for instance to add an item to an order in a retail store, all a cashier has to do is scan the barcode using the scanner. Then information about that item such as the name, price, and Item number will pop up on the screen. Much simpler and faster than keying the information manually which also results in less human error.
A barcode scanner consist three functional parts: the illumination system, the sensor and the decoder. You can set up the barcode scanner to scan the barcode as you present it in front of the scanner or you can change the mode to where you need to press the trigger for the scanner to begin scanning. Most barcode scanners begins processing information by emitting a red light. Then the light reflects back to the scanner and the sensor identifies the flashed light from the illumination system. Next, the illumination system generates an analog signal. The sensor changes the analog signal to a digital signal which is fed to the decoder. Finally the decorder transmits those information to the computer connected to the scanner either via USB or Bluetooth.
There is no need for a special software to retrieve barcode information. Similar to how human brain works and we understand the differences between numbers, letters and pictures, the decoder puts barcodes into usable context. Wherever your cursor in on the screen, the information will display there. For more complex requirements, you may need a special software to put data into inventory records etc. If your applications require to print barcodes you will also need a barcode/label printer and a barcode design software such as BarTender or Nicelabel.
To conclude, barcode scanners comes in all shapes, sizes and forms from pocket fixes to handheld, fixed , rugged, corded. Cordless, 2D etc. Barcodes and barcodes scanners are now an integral part of most of the businesses and shops that want to take their organisations efficiency, productivity and asset management to the next level. It has turned economically profitable for many industries and applications including retail, logistics tracking, inventory control, medicine, manufacturing plants, warehouse floor, government, office environment and many other enterprises you might never expect.