Did you know that you don’t need a Square Stand to connect a USB barcode scanner to your iPad? We put together a walk through on Instructables with steps on how to use a cabled barcode scanner with an iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch or other iOS product. There are some hubs available that’ll let you connect keyboard and other HID peripherals to your iOS device, we got ours at Amazon. Anyway, head on over to that article and learn more!

A group of students at Sweden’s Lund University have concocted a new way to link a person to a payment account. Traditional credit cards are easy to use, but also really easy to duplicate or otherwise copy. Newer PCI compliance rules have made that a bit difficult, with the addition of hardware encryption in magnetic card readers, but some want to get away from cards entirely.

Enter the students, with a method that maps the vein patterns in your hand to identify who is making a purchase. Engadget had a pretty solid article about the method, and it seems like there’s a lot of promise to it. It also looks like there are a lot of steps that could make adoption a bit slower.

So with their setup, you apparently have to give the issuing agency a scan of your hand, social security number, bank info, and phone number, and you’d then be linked. In this instance, the startup the students created would act as an intermediary, meaning there’s one more step between retailers getting your info and also getting your money. If there was a way to set this up directly with your credit card company, I could see it becoming easier down the road. But in its current incarnation, there’s a pretty high barrier to entry.

That being said, I could see this being a great option for Universities or High Schools. Currently, most colleges require students to swipe a card to gain access to dining hall services or buy additional food items. The student (or their parents) can add funds to the account as needed, in case they are hungry and out of Universi-Bucks. In this instance, the payment system is relatively closed, so setting a student up to use it would be relatively straightforward. It does become another vector for contamination, unless the hand scanner is sanitized after every use.

I do enjoy seeing students and researchers trying to create alternative methods to authenticate a user for payment. Hopefully this catches on somewhere.

Very rarely does POS equipment make its way onto sites like Engadget or Gizmodo, but hey sometimes interesting stuff happens. This time it was a video of hardware that can make your receipt printer print out the constitution.

From the article, this is the work of Thibault Brevet, a Swiss artist, who showed off his work at SXSW. The trigger system is apparently a small computer type thing that just fires out the proper commands over to the printer and boom, constitution! Gizmodo claims it’s any receipt printer, but it looks like there are some specifics to the setup. Namely, the printer needs a serial port in order to communicate with the crazy trigger system, and given that it’s an Epson TM-T88V, I assume the commands are sent using ESC/POS. Many printers do support ESC/POS, though sometimes it’s not always exact.

It is interesting to see POS hardware used in unconventional ways. Kind of like using mobile computers to play a song.

When I first started working here, there was already a barcode scanner that totally looks like an alien from the movie Alien. More scanners have been released since then, but none of them really looked like much of anything. Until today! Datalogic has a new presentation scanner out, the Gryphon I GPS4400, using their Gryphon 2D scanner in a new design.

And it bears a pretty solid resemblance to Master Chief from the Halo series.

gps4400-master-chief

It looks like Master Chief with a feeding or breathing tube or something.

As for the scanner itself, the Gryphon I GPS4400 is a pretty sturdy device. It’s about the size of a softball if you need something for scale. But compared to other presentation scanners, it offers a little beefier scanning. Kind of like you have a handheld scanner in a presentation design. The scanner has a solid heft to it, so doesn’t feel like it’s going to get dragged off a counter from a heavy cable or anything.

For retail barcodes, the GPS4400 can get reads from about a foot away. It’s definitely designed for “presenting” the barcode to the scanning window, as opposed to swiping it by like on an in-counter scanner. Datalogic’s Green Spot is up in there to give you visual cues of good scans. That kind of functionality is nice for places like libraries or music venues; places where the beep will be distracting or ambient noise is such that you wouldn’t hear it anyway.

In terms of durability, the scanner is pretty set for retail use. Four-foot drops won’t really slow it down, so if it does get knocked off a counter no biggie. It also has an IP62 seal, meaning it’s sealed against any dust and the odd splash of water. I wouldn’t put this out in the rain, but if you’re prone to spills, it should be okay.

The GPS4400 can be removed from the base if you want to like wall mount it or something. In that case it could be a good presentation scanner for a mobile ticketing or check-in application, like airplane boarding, for instance. All in all, the Datalogic Gryphon I GPS4400 is a smart 2D scanner at a good price.

DS4800 Video Coverage

January 9, 2014

Hey isn’t this great? We’ve made a video of the DS4800 so you can see it in all its glory. And what a lot of glory.

 

Behold!

The Motorola DS4800

January 8, 2014

Motorola DS4800Man it’s fun to test out stuff before it’s available for public consumption. I feel fancy. Anyway, there’s a new Motorola scanner that was announced today, the DS4800, and I wanted to talk about it since that’s my job.

The DS4800 is a fancy pants 2D area imager. And most likely pretty spendy. I don’t know for sure yet, there’s no MSRP listed. But check the lines on this thing, really sleek, really smooth. It looks like a fancy phone. I think we were calling it the batwing when we were messing around with it.

For the trigger, instead of a button, the DS4800 uses a capacitive trigger system with haptic feedback, which is pretty fun to mess with. It cuts down on moving parts too, so it could be a little burly. But I don’t want to drop this thing at all.

Oh and the sounds. That’s a whole thing there. So you know how scanners make a beep tone when they scan? It’s usually a chip that chirps one of a few tones? Well the DS4800 ditches that for a speaker and the ability to play audio files. The first time you’ll notice is on power up, when it plays a gravitas-filled crescendo. And then successful scans come with a nice tone. However, this means that with 123scan, you can switch the tones to be whatever you want. Clearly many audio clips have licensing fees associated with them, but imagine the Star Trek teleporter sound on powerup and phaser noises during scanning. It’d be awesome!

I haven’t even gotten to performance yet. So it’s a 2D imager, it’s a bit different version than the Blockbuster they’ve been putting into their mobile computers and the DS6878 and DS9808. But it’s a great scan engine, with about a foot and a half depth of field on regular retail barcodes. The scanner can read off screens remarkably well, so mobile couponing or mobile ticketing would be no big deal.

Options are available with driver’s license parsing, so you could see the DS4800 as a credit card signup scanner, or maybe in admitting in hospitals, or age verification in fancy bars. The possibilities are limitless.

There are also customization options available at certain order thresholds. If you need a lot of scanners, like a whole lot, Motorola can customize your DS4800 fleet to match whatever you want. Want to slap your brand logo on it? They can do it! Want the scanner to shout “Woo hoo!” on successful scan right out of the box? Done and done. There are a ton of potentialities here, and it’s terrific.

Once pricing is squared away, I’m sure these things will fly off the shelf. It’s very much a new era in data capture, and it’s great to see manufacturers shifting away from the same design that’s been in use for 20 some years. You can learn more about the scanner at Motorola as well.

Just learned from Engadget that Gearbox software, developers of the Borderlands series of games, has just released an interesting companion app to their Borderlands 2 title. For the uninitiated (I imagine all three of you who read this blog), the Borderlands series is a first person role-playing shooter. Kind of a mash of Halo and Diablo. The crux of this game is loot acquisition: weapons, shields, and power ups that make your character a beefier and more formidable loot acquisition machine.

With Loot the World, the new app, you use your iPhone or Android phone to scan a QR code, and it generates an item you can use in game with your character. It’s a tremendous way to extend the lifespan of a game and will most likely draw players back in who may have completed the game moved on to different titles.

With that bit of exposition out of the way, I wanted to point out our online barcode generator at https://www.posguys.com/barcode/ is a fun and easy way to make your very own QR Codes to create items. Items are specific to the code you scan, so theoretically you could find a great item, and send that QR code to friends who may want the item themselves.

For Android users, if you happen to scan a code and get an item you don’t like, you can click and hold on the product and it’ll bring up an option to remove it from your inventory.

QR codes support a ton of characters per code, including non alphanumeric. So you could dump some Emoji into our QR code generator and you’ll get some new results.

Update: Further testing let us get items by scanning any barcode. But wouldn’t you rather convert the Modern Major General song from Pirates of Penzance into great loot?

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