barcode scanning barcode scanning

Barcode scanning

Inspired by Morse code, N. J. Woodland and B. Silver invented barcode labels in 1951. Since the invention, the codes evolved into two basic forms: a linear sequence of thick and thin black lines, and a two-dimensional geometrical pattern of small dots, rectangles, and other shapes. Barcodes are ubiquitous, printed on nearly every consumer product, from food items to nonperishables. They are used at the airport for a check-in process, to track packages, and to check in attendees at conferences and entertainment events. In fact, it is difficult to name a logistical function where barcodes are not used. Barcodes require barcode readers.


There are several designs of barcode readers and scanners, and Hamamatsu manufactures components for each kind. The earliest is a pen-type reader which incorporates a light source, e.g., an LED, and a photodiode. As the pen is moved over the pattern of dark lines, the photodiode registers variations in the intensity of the reflected light, which correspond to the imprinted code. A scanner using a linear array of photodiodes or a linear image sensor is an improvement over the pen-type reader because the entire pattern is captured at once. These scanners may have their own source of light or rely on the ambient light. If the code is a two-dimensional pattern, the reader will use a two-dimensional image sensor such as a CCD or area CMOS image sensor to capture the pattern.


Hamamatsu is a leading manufacturer of necessary components for barcode readers. Listed below are our featured image sensors for barcode readers. If you have any questions about the existing products or possible new designs, please feel free to contact us.

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CMOS linear image sensors

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