You must be aware of the black and white parallel lines on products around you, whether in a shopping center or a grocery store.
That line is called an ‘object tag’ and you can find them everywhere – on books, packaged food items, clothes, DVDs, vehicles, inventory items, tickets and so on. This tag is read by a scanner/barcode reader which reads the data on the tag.
These were invented about fifty years ago and they have already taken the world of retail and manufacturing industry by storm.
However, in recent times, when it comes to scanners and barcode readers, some people wonder if these can be a competition to the new Radio-Frequency Identification Technology that is being appreciated and used all over the world these days.
Since the scanning technology is all about capturing and reading data effectively, it is often a tough decision to decide which technology to use for the purpose. While you are well aware of the RFID, let’s have a look at the scanners and barcode readers.
One of the major issues that business houses face today is to decide which technology to use which can effectively read the data; a technology that must fit their budget and requirements.
A laser scanner is programmed so it can capture and decode specific symbols (for example, a 2 dimensional data matrix code). This is the ‘language’ barcodes communicate in. This symbol which is used in the application can determine which technology can be used for the purpose and what will be profitable.
Barcode readers are so very popular in spite of the use of RFID in the market, and this is because these emulate keyboards. This allows them to be used in any application easily. The user just needs to focus on any text-input control and thus scan a barcode.
Barcode readers are mostly differentiated by the technology that is used in them; some use a photodiode, a laser beam or a light sensor. Whatever the case be, these find use in different areas depending on the technology used in them.
Barcodes may not be one of the greatest inventions of this century, but they have proved useful and have helped businesses all over the world. Barcode readers have benefitted enterprises and their manufacturers in the long run.
Nowadays, barcode readers have found use across a vast array of industries; reading VHS/DVD movie catalogs, in CD catalogs (plays MP3 when scanned), nutrition information, groceries, access control, inventory reporting, ticket validation and more. Barcode readers have integrated themselves in our day-to-day lives to such an extent that it is a part of the mainstream life.
Every grocery store, merchandise store and shopping centre uses barcode scanners today. Barcode readers have been used in healthcare as well, in tracking the patients and keeping their record updated.
These barcode scanners can be taken from one room to the other and used to read the data from a patient’s tag without fear of spreading infection. Barcode readers are easy to use, maintain and get data in an efficient manner.
But the big question that still bothers barcode users and manufacturers is – whether barcode readers will be popular and in use in the future?
The answer is a Yes. The barcode technology will be one of the most used technologies in different sets of industries, even when they have competition in the technology and hardware used.
Manufacturers today are investing to improve the quality of barcode readers; some of the leading barcode reader manufacturers like Symbol Technologies, Argox, Opticon, Intermec, American Microsystems Limited have started researching and trying out new developments and features in the barcode readers that will be at par with the needs and requirements of the industries in the future.
With the advancement in new techniques in the field of technology, researchers have come up with two dimensional barcodes which have proven to be more efficient than the linear ones.
There is always the chance of RFID replacing barcodes someday, but the expenses involved in RFID exceed that involved in barcode technology which makes it a not-so-desirable option at present.
It is possible that we will witness the use of barcode technology and RFID side by side, RFID being used for the more technical purposes and the barcode technology used for simple operations.
Some observations made about the barcode technology conclude that:
The latest innovation in the barcode technology is the three dimensional colored barcodes. Commonly known as the 3D barcodes, they have defeated the linear and 2D barcodes when it comes to storing information.
However, this technology hasn’t been introduced in the market yet because it’s completely new and has very few software or symbols available that are compatible with it.
The maximum symbology that is available and compatible with the 3D barcodes is known as HCCB (High Capacity Color Barcode) developed by Microsoft. Some other symbologies include the colored CL barcodes which are capable of storing up to 73 KB of data in a square barcode (small).
The best symbology that is available today which is compatible with a 3D barcode is the PM code. This is IP-based and has a memory of 0.6-1.8 MB. PM stands for Paper Memory; this is capable of handling 256 colors and its memory can range up to 1236 GB.
A barcode reader is certainly a well crafted device, but businesses today are switching to hand-held computers like Motorola MC9090 as well, because if their greater processing power and memory storage.