How Do Barcode Scanners Work?

How Do Barcode Scanners Work

In a person’s day-to-day life they encounter many things that would have seemed like magic in the past.

With a single voice command, a simple cylinder will play an entire concert’s worth of music.

A flick of a switch makes a bulb glow with the colors of a rainbow.

A piece of plastic shines a laser on some black and white stripes and knows everything about an object. This last device, a barcode scanner is a staple in our lives but how do barcode scanners work? Where did they come from and when?

The answer may surprise you.

A History Not in Black and White

The history of barcodes starts shortly after World War II. In the late 1940s businesses were growing, and so was the hassle of keeping track of everything in a store.

In a now commercialized United States lines in grocery stores would take forever. Everything purchased was logged by hand before payment. Human error was a looming threat for anyone who had a large amount of product to keep track of. This problem was present everywhere, from warehouses to hospitals.

It was in 1952 that Joe Woodland and Bernard Silver patented the first barcode design. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough technology to read these circular codes. That meant they wouldn’t be common for a few more decades.

In the 1980s, the invention of the handheld barcode scanner let barcodes take off. Now even our phones can scan them.

How Do Barcode Scanners Work?

Barcodes don’t look like much to the naked eye, just a random array of black and white stripes. But to a barcode scanner, they are so much more. How do barcode scanners work and what goes on between a laser hitting those stripes and a number popping up?

At first glance, you might think a barcode scanner reads the black stripes since they stick out. They’re actually reading the light of the laser that bounces back at them from the white ones. This light passes through a small circuit and its intensity allows the scanner to generate a number unique to the product scanned.

After that, it depends on the type of scanner. Different scanners allow for different actions. Some can order more of a product while others allow a cashier to add the prices of many products.

Another Method to Reading Barcodes

It might be the traditional method, but a barcode scanner is not the only method of reading barcodes. With the advent of computers and coding languages, there are methods of reading barcodes en masse with minimal effort. The c# language is one such method, with the right code you can use c# read barcode from image.

Learning to read a barcode with coding might appear intimidating, but with enough practice, reading c# will become second nature.

With it, you will be able to automatically read many barcodes at a time from more than one angle. With c#, Woodland and Silver’s dream of saving people time becomes even more of a reality.

From Circle to Rectangle

A lot has changed since Woodland and Silver patented their bullseye-shaped code seventy years ago.

Everywhere we look, we see barcodes. Stores use them to check out products. Artists hide their works behind codes hidden in the real world.

Even with them being common, people still often find themselves asking “how do barcode scanners work?” With luck, this article put some of those questions to rest.

If you found this article interesting and want to learn more facts about the digital world around us, be sure to visit our technology section!