How Does Barcode Scanner Work? [Types & Functions]

. 10 min read
How Does Barcode Scanner Work? [Types & Functions]

Table of Contents:

1- What Is A Barcode Scanner & How Barcode Scanner Works For Business?

2. Types Of Barcode Scanner

3. How Does A Barcode Scanner Work?

4. How Does Barcode Scanner Work (Cont.d)

5. Types Of Barcode Scanners

6. How Does A Barcode Reader Work?

7. How To Get A Barcode Scanner?

8. FAQs on How Does A Barcode Scanner Work

1- What Is A Barcode Scanner & How Barcode Scanner Works For Business?

Barcodes are codes that contain data or information about a particular product. Different letters and numbers are encoded using bars of varying lengths and widths. These barcodes are significant for accurate inventory management. For example, the barcode seen on the tag of apparel in a retail store will have some black and white spaces with a product number, which is detected and scanned by a computer.

It gets tallied with the data representing this barcode in the computer, and it will help in the billing process. A handheld scanner at the hands of the cashiers at almost all organised retail outfits is a familiar sight for every customer. In a store, an employee scans the barcode that is attached to a product, and that adds up quickly to a customer’s order. Today barcodes are found almost in every store. We see them on courier packages and also in print advertisements. Quick Response or (QR) codes are a more advanced form of barcodes with a mobile-friendly scanning process.

2. Types Of Barcode Scanner

Based on the amount of data that you would like to store in the barcode, they are available in 2 categories:

I. 1D Code

A linear black and white gaps of different widths, these codes have around 12 characters. They can carry only alphanumeric data. If you want to include more information, you will have to increase the length of the barcode. 90% of applications use the 1D Code.

II. 2D Code

2D Codes, like data matrix and QR Codes, use hexagons, squares, or other shapes to store data. Arranged in both horizontal as well as vertical patterns, as the name suggests, it facilitates 2-dimensional readability. Though much smaller in size than the 1D Code, it can hold up to 100 characters and thus store much more information.

3. How Does A Barcode Scanner Work?

A barcode scanner is an input device that uses light beams to scan and digitally convert printed barcodes. It then decodes the data and sends the data to a computer. It consists of a lens, a source of light, and a light sensor that can translate optical impulses into electrical signals. A barcode scanner contains a decoder that analyses the image data provided by the sensor and sends it to the output port. After scanning an image, it links to a host computer to pass along the captured information.

The decoder recognises the barcode symbols, translates the bar and space content, and transmits the data to a computer in such a format that we can read. The decoder can also drop data into Accel or Excel databases. Special application software can put that data into inventory records for monitoring the work-in-progress, or for receiving and sending files. It reduces the need for manual data collection and thereby helps mitigate chances of human error. It also quickens tasks such as managing assets, monitoring point-of-sale transactions, and tracking inventory.

4. How Does Barcode Scanner Work (Cont.d)

In a warehouse, manual screening of inventory helps to keep track of stock. But this is time taking and labor-intensive. Sometimes employees have to climb great heights to scan products, and a fall can be deadly. To solve this problem, a few logistics companies have deployed drones equipped with barcode scanners and obstacle avoidance sensors that can fly through each aisle of the warehouse. These can scan hundreds of barcodes within minutes!

Users of some social media apps can scan food and wine barcode labels with their mobile-only, to get more nutrition information like the number of calories that one serving would provide. You can also get review data. The barcode scanning function in some mobile apps helps businesses to interact with customers. In contrast to the old days, modern barcode scanners can read a wide variety of barcodes in one and two-dimensional formats. It can then automatically interpret the symbols that it reads. Commonly, the decoder is positioned into the handle of the scanner. If not, then a keyboard wedge is put between the computer and the scanner. In this article, we will help you choose the right barcode scanner to manage the inventory of your business.

5. Types Of Barcode Scanners

Based on the unique features and the technology that they use, barcode scanners can be of the following types:

1- Laser Scanners

These types of scanners use a laser beam as the light source. Here, either a rotating prism or a reciprocating mirror scans the laser beam to-and-fro across the barcode. A photodiode measures the intensity of light reflected from the barcode.

2- CCD Readers

These are also known as LED scanners. They use a range of hundreds of tiny light sensors lined up in a row in their head. Each sensor is minute and measures the intensity of light immediately in front of it. Hundreds of sensors are lined-up in a row and a voltage pattern. They are similar to the pattern in the barcode of the reader. Voltages across each sensor in the row are sequentially measured. So, in effect, a CCD Reader works by measuring emitted ambient light from the barcode.

3- Pen-Type Readers

Pen-type readers have a light source and a photo-diode. They are placed next to each other at the tip of a pen-like device. A person holding the pen must move the tip of it across the bars at a uniform speed to read the barcode. As the tip crosses each bar and space in the printed code, the photo-diode measures the intensity of the light that is reflected back from the light source. The photo-diode creates a waveform that measures the width of the bars and spaces in the barcode. The dark bars absorb the light, and the white spaces reflect it. So, the voltage waveform generated by the photo-diode is a representation of the bar and space design of the barcode.

4- Camera-Based Readers

They are two-dimensional imaging scanners and use a camera and image-processing techniques to scan the barcode.

6. How Does A Barcode Reader Work?

Let us understand what is a barcode reader and how does it work? Barcode scanners have the following sub-categories:

  • Handheld- They are the most popular types and are available in both corded or cordless models.
  • Presentation- It is a type of hands-free scanner that allows users to scan multiple items. It is also known as a multi-plane or on-counter scanner.
  • In-counter- It is similar to a presentation scanner, except that it sits inside the counter instead of on the top.
  • Mobile computers- They combine the functionalities of a barcode scanner and a PC.
  • Fixed-mount- It is a type of hands-free scanner and reads barcodes using sensors. These sensors are triggered when items pass through their front.
  • Wearable- They are scanners typically worn on the arm, finger, or hand.
How Barcode Scanner Works?

7. How To Get A Barcode Scanner?

You can search online for retailers who sell barcode scanners. Since you may have to configure the scanner to work with your software, it is best to purchase it from a store that will also provide after-sales tech support. Barcode technology is essential for automating business processes and scaling existing systems. There is a wide range of barcode scanners available in the market. You, as a business owner, can use them to improve your business performance.

Also read:

OkShop- India's Online Digital Dukan!
What type of permissions are required before starting any business?
The Rise of Ecommerce over the years
How to become a soft drink retailer? Here's all you need to know

Stay updated with new business ideas & business tips with OkCredit blogs in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi & more!
Download OkCredit now & get rid of your bookkeeping hassles.
OkCredit is 100% Made in India.

8. FAQs on How Does A Barcode Scanner Work

Q. How the barcode scanner reads the barcode?

Ans- The barcode scanner basically uses sensors and a light source to recognise and measure the strength of the light bounced back by the white spaces inside the unique design of parallel bars. The light is detected via the help of a photodiode, which in return produces an electronic signal.

Q. How do you use a barcode scanner?

Ans- Follow the steps to use a barcode scanner correctly:

  • Log in to your computer/business laptop
  • Tap "Add Product" after the item you're logging
  • Tap the round Barcode symbol.
  • Straighten the carton with the barcode you're scanning.
  • The camera must autofocus and scan the product.

Q. What is the purpose of a barcode scanner?

Ans- The main purpose of any barcode scanner is to read or scan a Barcode symbol and then present an electrical output to the processor via a cable and decoder. All barcode scanners use a light source and sensors to detect via a photodiode which produces an electronic sign that resembles the barcode design.

Q. How much does a barcode inventory system cost?

Ans- There are numerous options for a barcode scanner available in the market but choosing the correct one will simplify your business operations. Depending on the features, a barcode billing software price can easily range from anywhere 10,000 to 22,000 Rupees. You should also keep in mind the number of systems being used to execute.

Q. What is barcode and how it works?

Ans- The goal for any barcode scanner is to read or scan a Barcode symbol and then present an electrical output to the processor via a cable and decoder. The decoder identifies the type of barcode symbology it's scanning, deciphers the bar and space content then communicates the data to a computer in a human-readable arrangement.

Q. What is the example of barcode reader?

Ans- One of the best examples of a barcode reader is a supermarket barcode scanner that records and logs the price of all products depending on their category. With new technological advancement, more smartphones with the help of multiple apps are completely capable of scanning all kinds of barcodes.

Q. What can a barcode tell you?

Ans- Barcodes are allocated internationally and every product in the world has a unique barcode. The barcode provides you with all the information like:

  • Price of the product
  • Product weight
  • Manufacturing & Expiry Date
  • Name of the Manufacturer

Q. Can a barcode scanner read QR codes?

Ans- Yes, QR Codes can easily be read by 2D barcode scanners. These codes cannot be detected by the basic or 1D barcode scanners. The 2D Scanner scans the entire picture of the barcode in a single time, then interpreted it by a decoding algorithm to determine the data enclosed in the code.

Q. Can barcodes be traced?

Ans- Yes, barcodes can be traced via reading by a visual scan or special image scan. There are many barcode scanning and decoding softwares available in the market that can be installed on your smartphone or computer.

Q. How do I set up a barcode for my small business?

Ans- Follow these steps to understand how to set up a barcode system for your small business:

  1. Curate an Excel Sheet Database to sort & organise all your Product Inventories.
  2. Use the “generate barcode c#” maker.
  3. Attach the barcode to your stocks SKUs or UPC.
  4. Add barcodes while labelling your products or inventory locations.
  5. Purchase a wireless scanner and start maintaining your products stock record.