computer hardware, consumer electronics, electronic components  

Bar code equipment

A bar code is a technique for describing characters (alphabet, numerals, symbols, etc.) by a combination of parallel (vertical) lines (bars) of different thickness (width) or arranged at different intervals. The optical properties and patterns of bar codes are selected to distinguish them in appearance from the background. The information encoded in the barcode is represented by the specific sequence of bar and space widths, the precise nature of this representation depending on which particular barcode symbology is in use. A typical barcode is printed on a label and includes a series of alternating dark bars and white spaces therebetween of varying width in a one-dimensional array in accordance with the Universal Product Code (UPC) for example. Bar codes are printed on the packages and labels of various goods and articles. A bar code generally does not contain descriptive data. It is a reference number that a computer uses to look up an associated record that contains descriptive data and other important information. Since computers cannot "read" bar codes directly, for a computer to make use of the information contained in the bar code, the bar code with encoded data must be captured and then decoded into a data format that the computer can process. The device which optically reads or captures the bar code information and sends it to the decoder, is known as the bar code reader, generally called bar code scanner. A typical bar code reader kit consists of a scanner, decoder, and cable which interfaces the scanner and/or decoder to the computer. Optical readers and laser scanners used for reading and decoding bar code symbols to extract useful information are known. Many code readers and scanners are used to read known symbologies, such as UPC, EAN, JAN and similar codes, to provide information typically retrieved by converting such code symbols with data processing and computing devices. Typical methods for reading barcodes make use of the generation of an electronic signal wherein a signal voltage alternates between two preset voltage levels, one representing a dark bar and the other representing a light space. Typically, bar codes are read by a bar code scanner by illuminating the bars and spacings in a sequential manner, with the bars absorbing light and the background spacings reflecting light. This results in a pattern of reflections and nonreflections that is sensed by a light detecting circuit resident in the bar code scanner. In general, a bar code reader is composed of a laser beam generating light source, a laser beam shaping optical system, a scanning optical system, a signal light detecting optical system, a waveform shaping circuit, and a bar code decoding circuit. A typical laser barcode scanner is configured to scan an outbound laser beam across a barcode, and decode the inbound back scattered light therefrom.

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