A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data relating to the object to which it is attached. Originally barcodes systematically represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional (1D). Later they evolved into rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in two dimensions (2D). Although 2D systems use a variety of symbols, they are generally referred to as barcodes as well. Barcodes originally were scanned by special optical scanners calledbarcode readers. Later, scanners and interpretive software became available on devices including desktop printers and smartphones.
An early use of one type of barcode in an industrial context was sponsored by the Association of American Railroads in the late 1960s. Developed by General Telephone and Electronics (GTE) and called KarTrak ACI (Automatic Car Identification), this scheme involved placing colored stripes in various combinations on steel plates which were affixed to the sides of railroad rolling stock. Two plates were used per car, one on each side, with the arrangement of the colored stripes representing things such as ownership, type of equipment, and identification number. The plates were "read" by a trackside scanner located, for instance, at the entrance to a classification yard while the car was moving past. The project was abandoned after about ten years because the system proved unreliable after long-term use in the field.
Barcodes became commercially successful when they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task for which they have become almost universal. Their use has spread to many other tasks that are generically referred to as automatic identification and data capture (AIDC). The very first scanning of the now ubiquitous Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode was on a pack of Wrigley Company chewing gum in June 1974.
Other systems have made inroads in the AIDC market, but the simplicity, universality and low cost of barcodes has limited the role of these other systems until the 2000s (decade), over 40 years after the introduction of the commercial barcode, with the introduction of technologies such as radio frequency identification, or RFID.USES
Since their invention in the 20th century, barcodes — especially the UPC — have slowly become an essential part of modern civilization. Their use is widespread, and the technology behind barcodes is constantly improving. Some modern applications of barcodes include:1. Practically every item purchased from a department store, and mass merchandiser has a barcode on it. This greatly helps in keeping track of the large number of items in a store and also reduces instances of shoplifting (since shoplifters could no longer easily switch price tags from a lower-cost item to a higher-priced one). Since the adoption of barcodes, both consumers and retailers have benefited from the savings generated.
In point-of-sale management, the use of barcodes can provide very detailed up-to-date information on key aspects of the business, enabling decisions to be made much more quickly and with more confidence. For example:1. Fast-selling items can be identified quickly and automatically reordered to meet consumer demand.
Besides sales and inventory tracking, barcodes are very useful in shipping/receiving/tracking.1. When a manufacturer packs a box with any given item, a Unique Identifying Number (UID) can be assigned to the box.
A barcode printer is a computer peripheral for printing barcode labels or tags that can be attached to, or printed directly on, physical objects. Barcode printers are commonly used to label cartons before shipment, or to label retail items with UPCs or EANs.
The most common barcode printers employ one of two different printing technologies. Direct thermal printers use a printhead to generate heat that causes a chemical reaction in specially designed paper that turns the paper black. Thermal transfer printers also use heat, but instead of reacting the paper, the heat melts a waxy or resin substance on a ribbon that runs over the label or tag material. The heat transfers ink from the ribbon to the paper. Direct thermal printers are generally less expensive, but they produce labels that can become illegible if exposed to heat, direct sunlight, or chemical vapors.
Barcode printers are designed for different markets. Industrial barcode printers are used in large warehouses and manufacturing facilities. They have large paper capacities, operate faster and have a longer service life. For retail and office environments, desktop barcode printers are most common.
A barcode reader (or barcode scanner) is an electronic device for reading printed barcodes. Like a flatbed scanner, it consists of a light source, a lens and a light sensor translating optical impulses into electrical ones. Additionally, nearly all barcode readers containdecoder circuitry analyzing the barcode's image data provided by the sensor and sending the barcode's content to the scanner's output port.
TechnologyBarcode readers can be differentiated by technologies as follows:
Pen-type readers consist of a light source and photodiode that are placed next to each other in the tip of a pen or wand. To read a bar code, the person holding the pen must move the tip of it across the bars at a relatively uniform speed. 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 bar code. Dark bars in the bar code absorb light and white spaces reflect light so that the voltage waveform generated by the photodiode is a representation of the bar and space pattern in the bar code. This waveform is decoded by the scanner in a manner similar to the way Morse code dots and dashes are decoded.
Laser scanners work the same way as pen type readers except that they use a laser beam as the light source and typically employ either a reciprocating mirror or a rotating prism to scan the laser beam back and forth across the bar code. As with the pen type reader, a photodiode is used to measure the intensity of the light reflected back from the bar code. In both pen readers and laser scanners, the light emitted by the reader is rapidly varied in brightness with a data pattern and the photodiode receive circuitry is designed to detect only signals with the same modulated pattern.
CCD readers use an array of hundreds of tiny light sensors lined up in a row in the head of the reader. Each sensor measures the intensity of the light immediately in front of it. Each individual light sensor in the CCD reader is extremely small and because there are hundreds of sensors lined up in a row, a voltage pattern identical to the pattern in a bar code is generated in the reader by sequentially measuring the voltages across each sensor in the row. The important difference between a CCD reader and a pen or laser scanner is that the CCD reader is measuring emitted ambient light from the bar code whereas pen or laser scanners are measuring reflected light of a specific frequency originating from the scanner itself.
Two-dimensional imaging scanners are the sixth and newest type of bar code reader. They use a camera and image processing techniques to decode the bar code.
Video camera readers use small video cameras with the same CCD technology as in a CCD bar code reader except that instead of having a single row of sensors, a video camera has hundreds of rows of sensors arranged in a two dimensional array so that they can generate an image.
Large field-of-view readers use high resolution industrial cameras to capture multiple bar codes simultaneously. All the bar codes appearing in the photo are decoded instantly (ImageID patents and code creation tools) or by use of plugins (e.g. the Barcodepedia uses a flash application and some web cam for querying a database), have been realized options for resolving the given tasks.
Omni-directional barcode scanners
Omni-directional scanning uses "series of straight or curved scanning lines of varying directions in the form of a starburst, a lissajous pattern, or other multiangle arrangement are projected at the symbol and one or more of them will be able to cross all of the symbol's bars and spaces, no matter what the orientation.
Omni-directional scanners almost all use a laser. Unlike the simpler single-line laser scanners, they produce a pattern of beams in varying orientations allowing them to read barcodes presented to it at different angles. Most of them use a single rotating polygonal mirror and an arrangement of several fixed mirrors to generate their complex scan patterns.
Omni-directional scanners are most familiar through the horizontal scanners in supermarkets, where packages are slid over a glass or sapphire window. There are a range of different omni-directional units available which can be used for differing scanning applications, ranging from retail type applications with the barcodes read only a few centimetres away from the scanner to industrial conveyor scanning where the unit can be a couple of metres away or more from the code. Omni-directional scanners are also better at reading poorly printed, wrinkled, or even torn barcodes.
Cell phone cameras
While cell phone cameras without auto-focus are not ideal for reading some common barcode formats, there are 2D barcodes which are optimized for cell phones, as well as QR Codes and Data Matrix codes which can be read quickly and accurately with or without auto-focus. These open up a number of applications for consumers:
Smartphones can be used in Google's mobile Android operating system via both their own Google Goggles application or 3rd party barcode scanners like Scan. Nokia'sSymbian operating system features a barcode scanner which can scan barcodes, while mbarcode is a barcode reader for the Maemo operating system. In the Apple iOS, a barcode reader is not automatically included, but there are more than fifty free or paid apps available with both scanning capabilities and hard-linking to URI. With BlackBerrydevices, the App World application can natively scan barcodes. Windows Phone 8 is able to scan barcodes through the Bing search app.
with a handle and typically a trigger button for switching on the light source.
Pen scanner (or wand scanner)
a pen-shaped scanner that is swiped.,p>Stationary scanner
wall- or table-mounted scanners that the barcode is passed under or beside. These are commonly found at the checkout counters of supermarkets and other retailers.
An industrial barcode reader, used to identify products during manufacture or logistics. Often used on conveyor tracks to identify cartons or pallets which need to be routed to another process or shipping location. Another application joins holographic scanners with a checkweigher to read bar codes of any orientation or placement, and weighs the package. Systems like this are used in factory and farm automation for quality management and shipping.
PDA scanner (or Auto-ID PDA)
A PDA with a built-in barcode reader or attached barcode scanner.
a back office equipment to read barcoded documents at high speed (50,000/hour).
Cordless scanner (or Wireless scanner)
a cordless barcode scanner is operated by a battery fit inside it and is not connected to the electricity mains and transfer data to the connected device like PC.