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Enterprises, merchants, and educators are rapidly deploying iOS and Android devices to scan barcodes for fast, accurate data collection. Why? Because purchasing and maintaining traditional, purpose-built mobile computers for scanning barcodes can be complex and very expensive.
Smartphones and tablets on the other hand offer a low cost, easily replaceable, and customizable alternative. In many cases these “consumer” devices are more convenient (e.g. smaller and lighter), easy to update and offer more features, apps, and utilities. And most importantly they’re already in the pockets of more than 2 billion people. Smartphones are the ‘smart’ choice for barcode scanning – they’re everywhere and nobody needs training to use them.
What was holding up adoption?
To be an effective tool for businesses these consumer devices must perform as well as purpose-built, industrial scanners. They need to read both consumer and commercial barcodes and do so quickly and accurately.
While smartphones could scan simple consumer-facing barcodes, like the UPC barcodes on consumer products, in the past they were far less efficient at reading the more complex barcodes used in commercial applications.
New technology breaks down the barrier.
Over the past year, the technology to scan virtually any barcode using just the built-in camera of smartphones and tablets has improved tremendously. The result is low cost, readily available smart devices that rival purpose-built scanners in reading speed (tens of milliseconds), accuracy, versatility, and exception handling, i.e. the ability to read damaged, obscured, dense and poorly printed barcodes, even at extreme angles.
Everyone now has access to a powerful barcode scanner in their pocket – and this changes the game for commercial enterprises, merchants, educators, and others.
What’s in it for you?
Now that access to barcode data has been simplified, forward looking IT managers and developers can quickly develop new and exciting applications to track, validate, and collect data. It’s easier than ever to track business processes and create revenue generating and cost-saving services.
Business solutions with barcode data are already changing how event organizers validate tickets and badges; how logistics companies track shipments; how educators, associations, and enterprises track attendance; how security departments control access and monitor facilities; and how enterprises track inventory, assets, shipments, receipts, and processes.
The future of barcode scanning.
Traditional, purpose-built mobile scanners won’t go away – they are critical for many applications, especially in harsh environments where consumer devices may not survive. However, in the future we’ll see new ways to collect data and increase productivity based on the low price, convenience, and availability of those consumer devices. We’ll also see developers and entrepreneurs creating new, value-added services to help companies manage this wealth of data.