In recent years, developments in smartphones and tablets—particularly the Apple iPad—have moved barcode scanning out of back end warehouses and into the front end. Sales reps are carrying handheld barcode scanners along with them on customer visits, police officers are using barcode scanners to capture drivers’ license info, nurses are using them bedside, and retailers are scanning POS transactions out on the sales floor. So if barcode scanners are more visible now, is there a new market for more stylish scanners?
A few weeks ago, The Barcode News published an article about the Fifty Shades of Gray in The Bar Code Industry, suggesting that we needed more options in handheld barcode scanners, beyond the typical gray.
Since then, we’ve discovered that Socket Mobile—makers of the popular Cordless Hand Scanner (CHS) Series 7 Bluetooth barcode scanners—toyed around with this idea a few years ago. Not only did they have a yellow scanner available for two years, but they even approached Susan G. Komen for the Cure® with the idea of bringing a pink barcode scanner to market. Other options explored included red, blue, metallic silver, and even one with a wood grain casing, similar to what is found inside many cars.
“When designing our barcode scanners, we took many factors into consideration,” said Tim Miller, chief operating officer at Socket Mobile. “We may not have gone through with the color variants, but other ideas—that were considered out-of-the-box at that time—were successfully incorporated. For example, the size and shape of the scanner make it comfortable to hold for long periods of time, and the angle of the scanner makes it easier to scan barcodes without having to constantly tilt your hand forward, reducing fatigue and/or carpal tunnel syndrome. More recently, we received a patent for our design which placed a capacitive stylus on the end of the scanner, eliminating the need for users to juggle both a scanner and stylus when scanning into an iPad, iPhone or other touchscreen device.
“We agree conceptually that a variety of colors/options would be great; we’re just not sure it’s a good investment. Although the interest is there, every customer we approached had a different design in mind. For us to manufacture all of them is simply not feasible,” continued Miller.
“Another problem is that unlike cell phones, which are mostly purchased by individuals, barcode scanners are mostly bought in larger quantities by businesses. This usually means the device is covered in a carrying case or some other kind of protection—in an effort to protect their investment—before deploying it into the field. In this case, it doesn’t really matter what color the scanner is.
“We think it’s exciting that scanning is moving into the front end. In fact, we often hear that customers have chosen our scanners because they look good with the Apple iPad/iPhone. And if a company is planning to order a large quantity and wants a custom design, we can do that through our OEM department. It’s not a problem. It’s just not financially sound for us to produce these options without a buyer already committed.”
On another note, Miller affirmed that Socket is continuing to develop out-of-the-box solutions and has plans for upcoming scanning products. Although he would not release more details, he did hint that it was related to smartphone and tablet usage, which are growing markets as more businesses are pairing Bluetooth barcode scanners with smart phones and tablets.
For more information about the Socket CHS Series 7 barcode scanners or customization options through their OEM department, visit SocketMobile.com.
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