Your browser does not support JavaScript
Rilco - A Division of Triad Technologies
513-530-0055   5012 Calvert St. Cincinnati, OH 45209 RMA Request
The Science Behind Barcode Scanners
Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Barcode scanners are gadgets that are frequently used to read barcodes, like the one depicted above. They consist of a light source, photo diode and either a simple decoder or an intricate CCD or camera based scanners. We will look at how barcode readers work.

What’s a Barcode Scanner?

A typical barcode scanner records and interprets barcodes images into alphanumeric digits. The reader then disseminates the details of the barcode to a computer database via a wired connection or a wireless one, which is determined by the scanner model.
The digits that are associated with a barcode are connected to a specific item and the process of scanning displays a particular entry in the database and delineates information such as the price, inventory, description and images of the commodity.

Conventionally, barcode scanners read barcodes like 1D and linear barcodes. These appear as a series of parallel lines separated by white spaces. The white area is usually a quiet zone. A quiet zone basically exists to prevent the barcode scanner from reading unnecessary information. There is no scanning signal attached to such blank spaces which is why it is called a quiet zone.

How Does a Barcode Scanner Work?

Barcode readers begin by illuminating the specific code with a red light. The sensors of the barcode scanner detect the light that is reflected through the illumination system, which generates an analog signal with differing voltage, based on the intensity or lack thereof of the reflection.

Next, the converter alters the analog signal that is collected to a digital one. This is then fed to the decoder. The decoder is meant to translate the digital signal and verifies if the barcode is decipherable or not. The signal is then converted again to an ASCII text, formatted and sent to a computer that the scanner is connected to.

What are the Functional Parts of a Barcode Scanner?

We will look at the various components of a barcode reader below:

Illumination Systems

An illumination system is the method by which the bars and spaces of a barcode are illuminated. There are multiple types that are used in barcode scanners. This represents the first step in scanning a barcode.

Single Point LED

This particular technology is linked to the barcode wand reader and the slot reader as well. The illumination of a barcode is sourced from either a single or pair of LEDs and is focused via a single ball like opening. It is mandatory for the ball to physically make contact with the barcode that is being scanned.

Linear Multiple LED

This is essentially an extension of the single point illumination technique and places multiple LEDs in a solitary line, which enables the scanner to light the central width of the barcode. Linear multiple LEDs are traditionally used in CCD scanners and linear imagers as well.


A laser uses a single point red laser diode that is quite similar to a laser pointer. The precise point of light is expanded into a line by oscillating the laser into a stationary mirror or through the projection of the point into an oscillating mirror.

If you are interested in learning more about barcode scanner and a host of other such gadgets, you should peruse through the RILCO Industrial Controls website.

Subscribe To Our Blog

Blog Categories

  • General Interest
    • 01/07/2019 - How exactly do Motion Sensors
    • 12/19/2018 - The Science Behind Barcode Sca
    • 12/03/2018 - Looking For Industrial Encoder
    • 11/21/2018 - What are Servos?
    • 11/05/2018 - What Are Kill Switches?
    • 10/24/2018 - What are Vision Systems?
    • 10/08/2018 - Internet of Things: Universal
    • 09/26/2018 - Different Types of Sensors
    • 09/10/2018 - Using Barcodes for Other Purpo
    • 08/29/2018 - Understanding Encoders
    • 08/13/2018 - All You Need to Know About Mot
    • 07/25/2018 - 5 Reasons Why Through-Beam Pho
    • 07/09/2018 - The Importance of Barcode Read
    • 06/25/2018 - Automation in Manufacturing
    • 06/08/2018 - 4 Types of Encoders and Their
    • 05/23/2018 - Learning about Speed Sensors
    • 05/07/2018 - 4 Things to Know About Motion
    • 04/20/2018 - 4 Benefits of Barcode Readers
    • 04/05/2018 - 4 Ways in Which Technology has
    • 03/22/2018 - Everything You Don’t Know Abou
    • 03/06/2018 - The Importance of Automation i
    • 02/27/2018 - Importance of Sensors in Indus
    • 02/07/2018 - Applications of Servo Motors
    • 01/23/2018 - How Automation Can Improve Pro
    • 01/08/2018 - Role of PLC in Automation
    • 12/07/2017 - SICK Ready-To-Install Safety S
    • 12/01/2017 - PSS67 PLC: Thinking Outside th
    • 11/28/2017 - PSENmat – Safety with "Virtual
    • 11/21/2017 - AZM201: Now Even Better Tamper
    • 11/07/2017 - Safety to Cloud - Schmersal’s
    • 10/31/2017 - Safe Guard Locking and Safe In
    • 10/17/2017 - Weidmüller Strengthens Its Pre
    • 10/07/2017 - Robust and Secure – Your Two M
    • 09/18/2017 - Don’t Let Size Fool You
    • 09/07/2017 - Small But Mighty
    • 08/30/2017 - What’s Next for PULS?
    • 08/15/2017 - PULS Acquires Etasyn
    • 08/05/2017 - Solving Quality Control Issues
    • 07/28/2017 - Light Curtains and Safety Lase
    • 07/14/2017 - SICK USA Brand – The Who and t
    • 06/30/2017 - PNOZ s30 – Making Safe Turns S
    • 06/27/2017 - Which PNOZ Safety Relay is rig
    • 06/09/2017 - Pilz Automation Safety PLC – T
    • 05/30/2017 - Schmersal Sets New Standard fo
    • 05/20/2017 - Schmersal rolls out new safety
    • 05/10/2017 - Schmersal announces its member
    • 04/28/2017 - Weidmüller – the who and the w
    • 04/19/2017 - Weidmuller launches into the f
    • 04/04/2017 - Weidmuller Brings Home the 201
    • 02/12/2017 - Schmersal Releases New Safety
    • 01/31/2017 - Why PULS DIN-rail Power Suppli
    • 01/23/2017 - New PULS Redundancy Module
    • 01/10/2017 - PULS Releases New Buffer Modul
    • 12/12/2016 - Internet of Things: Home Autom
    • 10/31/2016 - Internet of Things: Home Autom
    • 07/28/2016 - Trends in Industrial Automatio
    • 05/12/2016 - Lasers are at Home on the Farm
    • 03/16/2016 - Discover Intelligent Solutions
    • 12/17/2015 - Faraday Future Takes on Electr
    • 11/13/2015 - Electric Vehicles: There’s Mor
    • 05/18/2015 - Benefits to Using Light-Emitti
    • 04/18/2015 - Laser Varieties: Part Two
    • 03/04/2015 - Laser Varieties: There are Mor
    • 02/17/2015 - Technological Highlights of Co
    • 01/14/2015 - These arms don’t get tired: Th
    • 12/19/2014 - What’s inside a relay?
    • 11/20/2014 - More on the history of the bar
    • 10/14/2014 - Barcode Background
    • 09/17/2014 - Three Famous (Fictional) Robot
    • 08/12/2014 - Early Forms of Robots
    • 07/11/2014 - All about kill switches
  • Robotics

Tag Cloud
 What's New in Rilco  What's New:

How exactly do Motion Sensors work?
Monday, January 7, 2019

The first motion sensor was based on the principle of the Doppler Effect and sensors today are still designed using the same principles.

The Science Behind Barcode Scanners
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
A typical barcode scanner records and interprets barcodes images into alphanumeric digits.

 Rilco - A Division of Triad Technologies
Contact Us

5012 Calvert St.
Cincinnati, OH 45209

Connect With Us

 Facebook  Twitter LinkedIN Google Plus Youtube Rilco Blog