This article provides an overview of scanner technologies to help you make the right choice of equipment suitable for mobile scanning from your supplier
In a nutshell:
- To scan codes on mobile screens, you need an Imager scanner (not Laser)
- If you are choosing new scanners, you should prefer 2D scanners to be more future proof (as they are also able to read 1D codes)
Scanner technologies: laser, imager 1D/2D
While smartphones are in the hands of all your customers, the handhelds that are used at points of sales are still very often unable to read the screens.
Imager technology provides an answer to these new uses. And the 2D Imager scanners allow the decoding of one-dimensional codes (EAN, UPC, etc.) and two-dimensional codes (QR, PDF417, AZTEC, DATAMATRIX, etc.).
To get the most out of the Passes that Splio Mobile Wallets allows you to create in your customers’ mobile wallets, equip your stores with 2D Imager barcode scanners.
The evolution of uses requires adapted technologies. Wondering which technology should you choose for your stores? Let’s take a look at the possibilities.
Laser technology is the oldest of the two technologies, the most widespread and very often the least expensive. It is an accurate tool that offers a good scanning capability, even when the barcode is far from it.
However, laser scanners operate on a principle of laser reflection analysis, and therefore it is not possible to scan a code displayed on a screen.
Imager technology constitutes a technological breakthrough. Reading code content no longer involves laser reflection analysis, but the analysis of a captured image (as in a digital camera).
This technology improves the reading capabilities in terms of code support, but also the level of degradation: a code that is damaged or protected by plastic or even displayed on a screen can be read!
Imager scanners have the particularity of being able to read from a screen, so they can scan a code displayed on a smartphone or tablet.
Conclusion: Imager Wins!
1D vs. 2D Scanners
1D codes (one-dimensional or linear) are decoded using laser and linear imaging technologies. The data usually include a limited number of characters that in most standards are exclusively numbers.
Among the most commonly used types, there is EAN 13 (13-digit European Article Numbering) in consumer goods or ISBN (International Standard Book Number) in the book industry.
In some formats (or symbologies) called of high-density, it is possible to encode a larger number of alphanumeric characters, we can mention for example the GS1-128 type used in logistics.
It is to be taken into account that the denser the code, the more sensitive it becomes to degradation.
The 2D codes (two-dimensional or matrix) mainly are found as QR codes. A total of 7089 numeric characters or 4396 alphanumeric characters are encrypted. This allows them to store a large amount of information.
This type of code is often used for batch or part tracking, contact information exchange, payment, access to online content and on Passes accessible from mobile wallet applications such as Apple Wallet.
It should be taken into account that 2D scanners, as their name suggests, are able to decode 2D codes and also read linear codes (1D).
Sometimes, it happens that the 2D scanner doesn't work with 2D codes the first time you try. If this is the case, it is most likely a issue with the settings of your Point Of Sales software.
Conclusion: 2D Wins!
Examples of 1D codes
Examples of 2D codes
Why adopting a 2D Imager?
In conclusion, 2D imaging technology scanners are THE most complete solution.
- They can read the majority of code types, including two-dimensional, which are now very common.
- They can adapt to all media types including mobile screens, which are now ubiquitous!
- They are more tolerant to degraded codes (provided that there is a good brightness)
- They are generally faster.
Depending on your needs, it is possible to choose a fixed or unfixed model, with or without cable. Some models can store scanned data or take pictures, which can be very useful during inventories, for example.
At Splio Mobile Wallets, we have created Passes for brands that are integrated into customers’ mobile wallets. Thanks to imaging technology scanners, customer information is immediately decoded and rendered usable on in-store equipment.
Image extracted from Intermec’s white paper: Imaging Moves Into the Mainstream, Why 2D Imagers are Surpassing Laser Scanners for Bar Code Applications
Whether it is your products, coupons, or your customers’ loyalty Passes, the solution is therefore based on imager technology.
Which model to choose?
Troubleshooting scanner issues
If the scan of your passes does not work, here is a diagnostic procedure that we recommend that you share with the team in charge of your equipment.
As a reminder, your scanner acts like a virtual keyboard: it will transform the scanned code into a string of characters. As the 128 codes are the ones that maximize the chances of reading, we recommend that you perform the tests below with a Pass of this type of code:
- Check if your scanner is Imager or Laser
- If it is an Imager, scan a code in Notepad
2.a If the scan does not work or the chain of characters does not match the encoded value
=> check the settings of the scanner
2.b If the scan does work and the the chain of characters does match the encoded value
=> check the settings of your Point of Sales System.