Turn Smartphone into portable barcode scanner

A barcode reader (or barcode scanner) is an electronic device for reading printed barcodes. Like a flatbed scanner, it consists of a light source, a lens and a light sensor translating optical impulses into electrical ones. Additionally, nearly all barcode readers contain decoder circuitry analyzing the barcode's image data provided by the sensor and sending the barcode's content to the scanner's output port. For portable barcode reader which built in memory and data collection it called Portable Data Collector (PDC). Now everyone who has QR Codes technology by their hand, we talk here the smartphone is common to reads QR codes and the mobile will connect the internet to finds the key code or directed to a website contains information which embedded on the QR codes. A survey by Scanbuy found that mobile bar code usage jumped 700% in 2010 compared with 2009. So the use for the portable barcode readers are going to be bigger next year as the more people getting used with the smartphone capability to read barcodes.

If you have a store, you might want to check your current inventory. At this moment the good quality for PDC or Portable Data Collector is still cost high, so we need some alternative for reading barcodes. So what are the options for replacing PDC from tight budget point of view? We can use portable Bluetooth scanner that can run 5 to 10 meters away from the main computer which is used to manage the inventory. But if the function we need is just simple, for barcode reading we can use Smartphone.

How can we do that?
As of this writing, there are already new technology in smartphone to read devices via USB, called USB on the go, so the modern mobile phone able to read device that attached via USB. Nokia N8 and I believe other mobile brand that has its own USB on the go technology has the ability to detect the handheld USB barcode scanners and run device and read information on barcode images, and sent to the phone...GREAT!! USB barcode readers work like USB keyboards. N8 powered the device fine too. Now we have the portable handheld barcode scanner to replace PDC in different way, so you can put your product info direct to mobile phone, it will handy for simple data checking, maybe wont replace fully function of PDC but it is practically can be very useful.

Whilst smartphones are capable to read 2-D barcode standard or the famous word is QR Codes (for "Quick Response" or two-dimensional bar codes which is designed to be scanned by a smartphone), the 1-D barcode standard is still rapidly use for store stock data which puts on every products, so the need for 1-D scanner is still going to be a long time. While cell phone cameras without auto-focus are not ideal for reading some common barcode formats, there are 2D barcodes which are optimized for cell phones, as well asQR Codes and Data Matrix codes which can be read quickly and accurately with or without auto-focus. Tech experts believe the 2-D codes are on their way to becoming marketing and sales tools as ubiquitous as Facebook or texting and as familiar as they already are to people who live in Japan, Europe and, to a lesser extent, bigger U.S. cities such as New York and San Francisco.

Back to the topic, here the picture showing N8 with the USB Barcode hook and capture 1-D barcode image...


As you can see the Nokia N8 is able to powered the USB barcode. I think this solutions is awesome, you can see origin article here.

So now you have an alternative for the low budget portable barcode scanner. So..? Have you try it?