A barcode scanner is an electronic device that reads and outputs printed barcodes to a computer. Barcode scanners and readers are made with a light source, a lens and a light sensor to translate optical impulses to electronic signals. They are widely used with point of sales (POS) systems and inventory management system, and has quickly become an integral part of business operations. There are 2 major different technology of barcode scanners in the market, and to decide which is best for your business is a difficult task. This article will go through a series of different types of barcode scanners, and to help you in making better decisions.

Laser Barcode Scanners

Laser scanners employ two optical systems to generate a laser beam and to focus the beam. An oscillating scan mirror moves the beam back and forth repeatedly along the barcode. The optical data captured will then be sent to a decoder to transform into digital data. Laser barcode scanners are very effective in scanning despite movements. For this reason, laser barcode scanners are usually the favourites when scanning requires motion insensitivity such as supermarkets, where scanning can be done effortlessly. Laser scanners allow operators to achieve higher productivity. Laser barcode scanners have been in the market for a very long time, hence the cost of production has been greatly reduced comparing to new emerging scanning technologies. The combination of a low price, and accurate scanning allows for a high laser barcode scanner adoption among retails and shops.

Digital Imaging Barcode Scanners

Digital Imaging Barcode Scanners use a different approach in scanning, where it projects LED lights that illuminates the bar code. Similar to a digital camera, the lens projects the barcode image onto a 2D array, and is then converted into electronic signals to reconstruct a digital image. With an advanced decoding algorithm, the decoder software will extract data from the barcode image. The biggest benefit in choosing this over conventional laser barcode scanners is because, digital imaging barcode scanners can scan 2D images instead of just 1D. This can result in accommodating a larger amount of data and information, which is crucial for industries like logistics, transportations, tracking applications etc. In addition to the standard applications of barcode scanning, digital imaging technology is slowly evolving to capture and transfer images. This enables imaging applications like document scanning, signature capture etc. They can also be useful for proof of delivery, shipping information, or records of damaged shipments.

Choice of Barcode Scanning Technology

Now that you have a better understanding over the two common barcode scanning technology, you should make a decision based on your business operations. Just to name a few examples:
  • If you work in a retail environment with point of sales system, where checkout personnel have to accomplish transactions accurately with items of different sizes, use laser barcode scanners.
  • If you need to keep track of your inventories from shipments, to shelving and delivery, use laser barcode scanners.
If you are in an industry like healthcare and pharmaceutical, digital imaging barcode scanner should be the choice to encompass wide scale of information like test results, medical equipment administration, vital health data etc.