General Scanning Support FAQs
How does a barcode work?
The different black and white elements of a barcode represent different text characters. The elements follow a set algorithm for particular barcode types, so when the barcode is scanned, the computer is able to quickly decode it.
How does a barcode scanner work?
A barcode scanner detects the different the black and white barcode elements and turns it into the corresponding text – sending this information to your computer just like a standard keyboard does.
Do I need any special software to use a scanner?
Not for a basic USB scanner. These can just plug into your PC as a HID (Human Interface Device) and populate the area the cursor is in with the data it captures from the barcode.
Can I read a barcode off a screen?
Yes, however how easily depends on the scanner. As laser scanners work on reflection of the white area of the barcode they battle with the reflection of the screen and generally will not work. 2D Area Imager scanners suit this task much better as they capture the barcode as a camera image and therefore can read the barcode off a screen easily.
What are the different scanner types?
There are three main types of scanners – laser, linear image, and area imagers.
A laser scanner is the most well-known type of scanner and scans traditional 1D barcodes. It works by using a laser-beam light source and the barcode is decoded by a photo diode which measures the light reflected back from the barcode into the laser.
A linear image scanner works more like a digital camera by capturing the image and then decoding it. Similarly to the laser scanner it only reads 1D barcodes, though linear images scanners can read barcodes on any surface including digital devices and damaged or poorly printed barcodes.
Area imagers capture the barcode as an image before analysing and decoding it. Unlike laser and linear image scanners, area imagers can read both 1D and 2D barcodes. Through their omni-directional reading capability, these scanners result in faster reads and the user doesn’t need to spend as much time aiming the scanner. High-performance area imagers can even be used to capture and transfer images, like signatures or a photographic image, useful for proof of delivery or evidence of a damaged shipment.