Bluetooth Barcode Scanning Guide Top 10 SDK Features

1 03 2013
Using the Bluetooth Barcode Scanner SDK can bring a new level of functionality to your data capture appplication

Using the Bluetooth Barcode Scanner SDK can bring a new level of functionality to your data capture appplication

In this mini series about Bluetooth barcode scanners we’re going to give you the top SDK features, as per Socket Mobile’s guide.  Socket make Bluetooth Scanners and one of their strengths is that they have an extensive SDK (Software development kit) that works across all OS’s including Windows Mobile, IOS and Android.  It even works on Blackberries, (Whatever they are ;-0!).

Using the SDK of a bluetooth barcode scanner, isn’t difficult but it’s certainly worth it as it gives you so much fine control how your mobile solution scans barcodes.  It can be the difference between a poor and great application!

1. Cursor control

The ability to choose where the scanner data goes in to you application.  This can make the workflow of your data so different and can also give performance benefits to your app.

2. Range control

Detect when the scanner goes out of range.  Essential to stop you scanning barcodes into the ether!

3. Detailed Scanner Setup

The ability to set up the scanner for the scenario you’re in will make a huge difference to your scanning efficiency, but not only that, you can set up different profiles in your app and use the one that you need at the time.  If you;re in a low light condition or trying to scan through something, or have a plain awkward barcode to scan then this is how you do it.

4. Remote Acknowledgement

Allows your application to acknowledge receipt and success of the barcode scan.

5. Scanner triggering

Changing how the scanner behaves, do you need to press the button, is it always on or will it poll for barcodes (stand mode)?

6. Scanner paging

You do lose bluetooth barcode scanners from time to time.  Can you page yours to help you find it?

7. Scanner feedback

Set the scanner up to buzz, vibrate or play a different noise if the barcode is not the one you expected.

8. Battery level retrieval

If your application can get the battery level then it can give you all kinds of warnings and also behave differently at certain levels.

9. Symbology Config

This is so useful but so rarely used. Switching off all the symbologies the scanner will read will not only speed up the scanning enormously but you can also stop rogue barcodes getting into your system.  It’ll also reduce the training needed with users if they are scanning items with multiple barcodes on them.

10. Custom beeps

Creating custom beeps depending on the barcode scanned is more useful than it sounds!

So there you have it.  Next week we’ll update our top 5 bluetooth barcode scanners to round off the series.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged PDA and Tablet – Bluetooth Barcode Scanner Top Tips

6 02 2013
Bluetooth Barcode Scanners have come a long way in recent years

Bluetooth Barcode Scanners have come a long way in recent years

So 2nd in this series of 3 blogs about Barcode Scanning options for Rugged PDA’s and tablets, we’re talking about Bluetooth scanner options.

Bluetooth Barcode Scanners are small, handheld devices that connect via Bluetooth to your Rugged PDA, use them to scan barcodes and they either send the barcode data straight to your PDA or tablet, or they can be batched up and sent in bursts if required.  At first glance having a Bluetooth Barcode Scanner might seem a bit stupid!  Why have one if your Rugged PDA has a built in Barcode Scanner option?  Well lets lay out the Pro’s and COns right here:

Benefits of a Bluetooth Barcode Scanner

  • You have a separate battery so your scanner doesn’t impact on your PDA battery life.
  • You have a lot of versatility and flexibility scanning in tighter spaces or in different ways.
  • The scanner in the BT device may well have a better SDK and better scanner tech than your PDA.
  • You can put the PDA or tablet especially down and scan remotely, holding only a light device.
  • The BT scanner is a cheaper item to replace if you need to upgrade to 2D capable scanning.
  • You can buy a cheaper device with no scanner built-in.  This has 2 benefits.  (1) It increases the number of PDA/Tablet options and (2) you can keep the same device for your whole workforce who may not be scanning.
  • You can leverage existing PDA or tablet hardware.

Con’s of Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

  • A separate scanner means a different SDK to learn and use if you want to program it up in your own software, although it’s not a huge issue for your every day programmer.
  • Separate battery also means 2 charging requirements, 2 sets of chargers etc.
  • The scanner might not last the day, especially ones with built in batteries so charging options are limited.
  • You can lose the BT scanner!
  • You might have pairing and connection issues, although much rarer these days.
  • 2 devices might need knock on training cost for your workforce.

Some Myths!

  • Bluetooth technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years so they don’t suffer anything like they used to from poor connections.  In fact some will connect from 100M away!
  • BT Barcode scanners no longer have poorer technology in them, in fact if anything they’re better and more optimised for scanning.
  • BT Barcoode scanenrs are not rugged!  Well go and see how rugged Baracode scanners are and i’ll watch you eat your hat!

Next up we’ll look at the built in camera of the device and talk about the pro’s and cons of using it.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged PDA and Tablet Barcode Scanner Options

4 02 2013
Laser Barcode Scanners aren't the only option in a Rugged PDA

Laser Barcode Scanners aren’t the only option in a Rugged PDA

So this week we’re going back to our roots by talking about barcode scanning on Rugged Handhelds and Rugged Tablets.  We’re going to cover off in a 3 part series all the options you have if you need a mobile barcode solution that also scans barcodes.

Today we’ll look at built-in barcode scanning options on Rugged PDA’s and Rugged Tablets, guiding you through the main options and things to look out for as you chose your device.

1. Check the Barcode Scanner types the Rugged PDA has

There are some PDA’s that still only have a 1D laser scanner option so you’ll only ever be able to scan 1D barcodes and not the emerging 2D ones.  Some like the Motorola MC65/65 series only have a 2D imager and despite the fact it’s an excellent piece of kit it of course adds to the price, especially for those who only really want to scan barcodes, or without barcode scanning needs at all.

2. Check the Barcode scanner options available

This can vary lots depending on the manufacturer, for instance in Motorola and Pidion devices they tend to have a barcode scanner option of 1D or 2D but they don;t have the option of having none!  This can seriously impact the price of the device if you don;t need scanning at all or want a bluetooth option instead.  Brands like Dotel allow you to freely configure the barcode scanner option from “none” to 1D laser, to 2D imager and even RFID options.

3. Barcode Scanner Core Hardware

Check the scanner hardware brand.  If you don’t know then ask your reseller about it.  Many devices OEM Motorola and Honeywell scanner technology into their kit because it’s very good but many use unbranded or lesser quality scanner modules that are not only as good as the main brands but also harder to get any help or assistance on.

Also check the scanner type.  Laser scanners are no longer the king of efficiency and speed with many LED based imagers now better.  Imagers are more rugged as they don;t have any moving parts and also have more budget options in some devices keeping your costs down if you’re never going to need aggressive scanning capabilities. Intermec and Baracoda are good examples of manufacturers who supply cheaper “Imager” options of their scanner technologies giving the customers choice.

4. Fuzzy Firmware!

So you might have the Motorola SE950 laser scanner in your device, but does it work properly?  Buy a Motorola or Intermec and this is the guarantee you tend to get with superb, mature scanner software built in to their devices, meaning your up and running with little or no learning curve.  Pidion, for example, have the same scanner tech, but the firmware is simply not up to the same standard.  Also how much you can configure and tweak your scanner can be the difference between a smooth running mobile solution and a nightmare so always check them out first, ask your reseller for video’s or the manual if you’re not buying enough for a loan device or get hold of loan kit!

5. Specialist Barcode Scanning

If I have a £1 for every person that came to me not knowing that there’s a specialised barcode scanning technology for their needs, i’d be a rich man!  If you need to read barcodes form a distance, and I mean feet/yards, not inches, then there are specific RUgged PDA’s that will meet your needs.  Likewise if you need to read tiny, compressed barcodes then there are High Density scanner options in some devices that will meet your needs.  It’s not just about 1D or 2D barcodes, there’s a lot of scanners around these days that can do more specialised scanning for you.

Rugged PDA Built in Barcode Scanning options - 1D, 2D, High Density or none?

Rugged PDA Built in Barcode Scanning options – 1D, 2D, High Density or none?

6. SDK Support

Like (4) above, a barcode scanner is no good if programmers can’t get to it or understand how to get to it in their code.  If the Device has a good Barcode Scanner SDK then it’ll be easy to sew it into the workflow of your mobile application.  If not then it can make life a lot harder.  My advice would be to again test before you buy.

7. Get the right advice, build the relationship you need

Always, always find a reseller that can advise and guide you through your Rugged PDA or Rugged Tablet scanner options.  For the sake of a few quid today, you’ll save thousands in improved efficiency and happier users for the years ahead!

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the Bluetooth Scanner Options.  Why you’d go for them and what the pros and cons are

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Understanding the Rugged PDA – RFID Options

6 02 2012
Rugged PDA RFID Myths Busted!

Rugged PDA RFID Myths Busted!

The sun is almost up, its above freezing and it’s not raining.  It must be summer here in Liverpool!  Anyway we’re continuing our look at Rugged PDA features by looking at RFID today.  Remember this series of blogs is designed for the layman and it looks at the key elements when deciding on the best Rugged handheld for your solution.  We’ve covered off the main questions we’ve been asked about RFID and Rugged PDA’s the past few months here.

A background of RFID

People have been talking about RFID for years and years and despite it still not quite being a super-mainstream technology, there are definite pockets of users and it has in fact been around for decades as a technology.  It’s a superb ID and data capture technology and the costs have come now to a point where we’re definitely seeing more and more demand for it.

There are loads of different types of RFID which one do I choose?

Well to be honest most rugged PDA’s that have an RFID option, tend to go with the popular and cheapest HF (High Frequency) readers.  Within this there are various standards so you do need to watch out but HF is the one you’ll see most of these days.  LF (Low Frequency is older and more mature technology and still has its uses.  It has longer range and is less susceptible to problems from the environment it is in and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) is the one with the larger ranges.

Does it change the device size at all, I’ve seen RFID devices and they are big and complicated?

You’re probably thinking of UHF devices which give the longest range of all RFID technologies.  LF and HF tend to not change the form factor much in most RUgged PDA’s, either by way of extending them by a cap or a slight bump, but the best ones now don’t change the case at all.

What limitations are there with PDA RFID Readers?

Most of them are decent readers now, not all though so always test first.  Make sure you test a range of tags, or better still consult your reseller who should have a list of known reader/tag tests for you.  Don’t forget the readers are packed into tiny spaces in the cases of rugged PDA’s so despite the reader being great, the antenna can let it down hugely.  Again ask the reseller about this and test.

There are some obvious things to consider too like if you need to scan in tight confined spaces.  A Rugged PDA might be too large for you and a bluetooth option might be better.

What about battery power?

RFID is tough on the battery, so always make sure you test and check to see if the PDA is capable of running the RFID reader.  There are more and more smaller Rugged PDA’s taking onboard RFID readers but the size means there are definite restrictions when it comes to battery.  If you need a good reliable, RFID reader that will be used throughout the day then you need a big battery or a Rugged PDA with better Lithium Polymer batteries.

My tags work, my PDA should work but the solution just doesn’t work right.  What is going on?

This is a classic scenario we see here all the time.  The customer buys some tags, buys a Rugged PDA with RFID reader and expects it to work as per the spec sheet!  Sure if performance is not key then this is often OK, but RFID is empirical and you need to test a number of tags to check the partnership works well.

Do not use cheap nasty tags either.  Good quality ones that we can provide here are always a money saver in the long run making far better solutions in the end.

Lastly be careful of Rugged PDA operating systems, many are -10 degrees which we saw the limits of in the UK last year through the codl snap.

I already have a bunch of Rugged PDA’s can you help!

Yes, there are some decent options for you:

Firstly there are Bluetooth options you can use.  Baracoda for instance have a lovely HF reader that has a strong BT connection technology.

There might also be a snap-on for your device too so if you’re thinking you will be using RFID but not just yet, you could look for a device with a snap on option that allows you to quickly add the functionality later, still using the same SDK’s as the device.

There are a few Rugged PDA’s where the actual chips can be added later on.  We can take them back here and fit them for a small charge.

OK, so that’s the main areas covered.  Remember that RFID is a hugely complex technology and these Q&A’s will help you engage with a reseller but always ask the question and try to understand as much as you can because it will pay dividends later on.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged and Mobile Trends for 2012 – 6. 4G and increased Data Speed

16 01 2012

4G Pilotsand aluanches in 2012

Quick one this morning!

Continuing our top 10 rugged and mobile trends for 2012, with 4G being piloted already and officially launched in 2012 this will not only bring better speeds to the mobile networks but a more secure and robust technology too and we’re all going to lap it up, soaking it into new super data driven solutions!

OK, so we’re a little slower in the Rugged Handheld market than the crazy smartphone one but I think as 4G becomes the norm everywhere we’ll see the first 4G equipment arrive this year in our market.  This will not only drive more connected, data driven, on demand solutions for businesses but it will allow for a better connected solution too which will bring a lot of opportunities to solutions providers and businesses alike.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

%d bloggers like this: