Types of barcode scanners

It is noticeable that barcode scanners nowadays have become easier to use. With the technology always growing and expanding, out there on the market now exist many types of barcodes and probably more will be invented in the future.

The days when you had ti deal with decoder boxes and cables that are going everywhere are now long gone. With the new types of barcodes, you only have to plug the cable into the scanner and computer to have then connected and after that, you are good to go.

The operation of scanning became easier and choosing from so many options and varieties can be hard for you. It is necessary to do some research and find out how many types of barcode scanners exist and what they are used for.

In this article, you will find some details about the different types of barcode scanners that exist, but first of all, it is essential to know what a barcode scanner is.

What is a barcode scanner?

This device is also known as a barcode reader and is it an electronic scanner that is able to read and output barcodes that are printed, to a computer. It works like a regular flatbed scanner and it has included a source light, lens, a light sensor that will provide the translation of optical impulses into electrical impulses. Most of the barcode readers that exist have a decoder circuitry that analyzes the image of the barcode that is provided by the sensor and sends the content to the output.

Barcode Scanner Types

The classification of the types of the barcode scanner can be split into two main categories: technology and housing. In the first category, you can find the pen-type scanner, the laser type, CCD readers, camera-based scanners, omnidirectional scanners, cell phone cameras and smartphones.

When it comes to the second category above mentioned, you can find: handheld scanner, wand scanner, stationary reader, fixed-position scanner, PDA reader, automatic reader, wireless scanner. Down below you will find some of them in more details.

Pen-type scanner

This type of barcode scanner has included a source of light and a photodiode. They are both placed next to each other in the tip part of a pen. For usage, it should be moved with the tip of the pen across the bars with a consistent speed.

The photodiode is supposed to measure the intensity if the reflected light while the tip is going to scan each bar and space of the code. The bars from the code that are dark absorb light while the spaces that are white are the ones that reflect the light.

This is because the voltage waveform that is generated by the diode is the representation of the bars and the spaces from the barcode. This specific way of scanning is supposed to be similar to the Morse code and in what manner it is decoded.

Laser scanners

The scanners with laser have the same way of working as the pen type do, with one thing to mention, they use a laser beam as the source of light and with this,they have a system with a mirror or a prism that scans the laser beam across the code.

CCD scanners (or LED scanners)

This type of scanner is using hundreds of light sensors that are placed in the head of the scanner. The sensors measure the intensity of the light that appears in front of it. What is different with this type of scanner is that the CCD measures the light that is emitted from the code, while with the pen or laser scanner it is measured the reflected light of a frequency that is originated from the scanner itself. The sensors are placed in a single row.

Camera-based scanners

This method implies the usage of a camera and techniques that decode the bar code by image processing. With the video camera reader method, you should know that it is used a small video camera with the method mentioned at the CCD scanners, except that it does not have a single row of sensors, it has hundreds of rows that are supposed to be placed in a two-dimensional way so that they can create an image.

The large field-of-view method is using a high-resolution camera from the industrial environment, that can capture more barcodes at the same time. The barcodes that appear in the image are decoded instantly or with the help of different plugins.

Omnidirectional scanners

This method implies different orientations, such as starburst, Lissajous patterns, cross and many other directions of the scanning lines. The thing is that no matter that the orientation of the scanning lines is, most scanners use a laser. They create a pattern of beams in different orientations that let them read the code from different angles. This method is known to be used mostly in supermarkets, with the horizontal scanners that scan your goods.


You can now scan with your smartphone different types of barcodes. If you have an Android operating system, you can use the Google Goggle application. The Symbian operating system and the Maemo one can both scan barcodes. When it comes to the Apple iOS, the reader is not included, but you can purchase an app for this.

Fixed-position scanner

This scanner is used in the industrial area and it is supposed to help with identifying different products during manufacture or logistics. This method joins holographic scanners that also have a check weight feature that read the barcodes of any orientation and weighs the product at the same time. This is used in big factories and farms for a better quality of the management.


All in one, with so many types of barcode scanners it is easy to read a code and it is almost vital these days to practice this. With the two big categories (housing and technology), it is easier to analyze the types of scanners that exist and to see in what domain they are used

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