QR is short for Quick Response. A QR code is a type of matrix barcode first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it into your mobile phone or other similar devices instead of requiring a chunky hand-held scanner to scan them.
QR codes are a machine-scannable image that can instantly be read using a smartphone camera. Every QR code consists of a number of black squares and dots which represent certain pieces of information. When your smartphone scans this code, it translates that information into something that can be easily understood by humans.
A barcode is a method of representing data in a visual, machine-readable form. A barcode consists of parallel adjacent lines of varying thicknesses and spaces which can be decoded by a barcode reader. This occurs by scanning a light source across the barcode and measuring the intensity of light reflected back by the white spaces.
A barcode reader is an optical scanner that can read printed barcodes, decode the data contained in the barcode, and send the data to a computer. Like a flatbed scanner, it consists of a light source, a lens, and a light sensor for translating optical impulses into electrical signals.
A barcode scanner usually consists of three different parts including the illumination system, the sensor, and the decoder. In general, a barcode scanner “scans” the black and white elements of a barcode by illuminating the code with a red light, which is then converted into matching text. More specifically, the sensor in the barcode scanner detects the reflected light from the illumination system and generates an analog signal that is sent to the decoder. The decoder interprets that signal, validates the barcode using the check digit, and converts it into text. This converted text is delivered by the scanner to a computer software system holding a database of the maker, cost, and quantity of all products sold. Because barcode scanners are variable and include diverse capabilities, some are better suited for certain industries due to reading distance and work volume capacity.
Pen-type Reader: consists of a light source and a photodiode on the tip of the pen.
Laser Scanner: works similarly to a Pen-type Reader but uses a laser beam.
Camera-based Reader: installed with camera and image processing techniques in the reading of barcodes.
CCD Reader: has several light sensors to scan barcodes.
Omni-Directional Barcode Scanner: highly advanced and very efficient in decoding badly printed, crumpled, and even torn barcodes on products.
Types of Barcode Scanners
There are many different scanners and scanning technologies on the market today. The most commonly used variants consist of a red light source or laser that reads the data from barcode labels and feeds it into the Point of Sale system. The technical name for a scanning device that uses lasers is a Charge Coupled Device, also called a CCD reader or CCD scanner.
Recent technological advances now allow smartphones to function as barcode readers through their camera functionality. This functionality is used in retail apps to facilitate online shopping. Department stores like Macy’s and Target give the customers the option to scan items while in-store to check prices and look for deals. Similarly, Amazon app users can scan the barcode of any item around them to look it up and purchase it from Amazon.