A layman’s guide to

how a barcode scanner works

Packaging is a big industry in this modern world we live in. Every commodity which is produced is packed in such a way that it reaches the hands of the consumer in the right shape. The package not only protects the product but has information relevant to it like its price, manufacture date, etc. This info is encrypted as barcodes which are usually black and white lines of diff thickness. These also have a unique number at the bottom which represents the data along with the barcode. Barcodes cannot be read by humans as it appears as plain lines. Optical devices like a barcode scanner are able to detect the barcodes and are also able to decode the information on it.

The primary advantage of using barcodes is that it eliminates tagging of products. No longer do shopkeepers need to stick tags on each and every product like it used to be. This meant that every single item coming into a shop needs to be tagged and accounted for. This involved manual labor and consumed a lot of time. Barcodes have revolutionized the tagging job done at shops to keep a record of things. Shop keepers no longer need to stick stickers and mention its selling price. There are a number of different types of barcode scanners and each has their own uses. Barcode scanners vary from small handmade ones to stationery ones kept on desks to quickly scan the barcodes at the point of sale. The hand held scanners include a pen type scanner which looks literally like a pen. All one has to do is move the pen across the barcode at a constant speed which reads the information on the barcode. This is usually used when there is less need to scan barcodes.

Other scanners use laser technology which employs a laser beam to hit the barcodes which is then reflected to a mirror inside the scanner. This is faster than the pen type scanners and does the scanning in an instance. These machines are also easy to handle and are essential for cargo packaging and other related areas where the person has to move around and get the scanning done for various diff purposes. There are different ways a scanner is able to read the barcodes. Some use LED lights to measure the intensity of the light in front of them and read the barcode while others use imaging technology, etc. The advantage of using an LED scanner is that it is able to scan objects from afar off. This is due to the wavelength of the LED lights which makes it possible to read the barcodes from a distance. These will be helpful for those in charge of the transaction at the point of sale. All they need to do is swipe the barcode anywhere close to the scanner and the details are registered for the sale. In a world where everything is so fast it is an asset to have these scanners to work in a prudish way.


Mr. Priyankar Baid is the owner of the website www.smesauda.com and he deals in all the latest equipment required by the retailers these days. Equipment such as barcode printer, receipt printer, cash register etc.