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Advances in mobile technologies and improved built-in cameras have propelled the adoption of consumer-grade smartphones in the enterprise space. Software-based camera enhancements have encouraged businesses to actively consider using consumer smart devices to scan barcodes and capture images to augment operational workflows. A new generation of smartphone camera peripherals offers organizations the option to deploy consumer devices into harsh environments for applications such as proof-of-delivery and warehouse inventory management.
In this blog, we will highlight two recent product announcements – one by machine vision leader, Cognex and the other by mobile application software vendor, Scandit, that are designed to further their mobile scanning market-related ambitions.
Cognex, the global market leader of machine vision solutions, recently announced the launch of its new StingRay attachable camera enhancement accessory, which can be used with both Apple iPhones as well as Android smartphones, designed for barcode scanning in light industrial and enterprise applications. This patented accessory redirects a smartphone’s built-in flash into an aiming pattern that improves the barcode scanning process and can be integrated with a rugged case for additional drop protection.
The Stingray paired with Manatee Works’ (now part of Cognex) barcode scanner SDK becomes a highly powerful enterprise grade barcode scanning tool, decoding more than 40 symbologies on all major mobile, desktop and server platforms. This does not require an internet connection and can scan all barcodes offline. The peripheral itself has a future-proof design with the universal version designed to work with different brands and models as it can be overlaid onto a number of iPhone and Android smartphones/devices. VDC believes the StingRay, coupled with the SDK, is the first step for Cognex’s entry into the mobile scanning space.
Zurich-based mobile image processing and cloud computing software vendor Scandit – with clients like Cardinal Health, Coop, and SBB – recently announced the launch of its new consumer smartphone peripheral, the Scandit Case. This product is a fully ruggedized camera enhancement peripheral that facilitates forward facing scanning that is similar to rugged mobile devices or sleds/sleeves and was launched for the IPhone 6 and 6S in early 2016.
The Scandit case is designed to work with Scandit’s patented Barcode Scanner SDK that converts the built-in camera of consumer-grade devices into enterprise-grade scanning solutions. The SDK provides high-speed read rates and accuracy in ambient conditions including limited lighting, glare, angled barcodes, damaged barcodes, and variously-sized barcodes. Containing no additional electrical components, the Scandit case houses special optics that redirect the built-in LED light and camera for forward-faced scanning with a dedicated scan button on the side.
The case, combined with Scandit’s barcode scanning SDK, serves as an all-in-one mobile scanning solution and can extend lifecycles of the consumer devices in logistics, manufacturing, and retail. Its design, however, limits use to specific smartphone models at a time. In order to encourage investments from a broader base of end users, Scandit will need to keep future-proofing and backward compatibility in mind, especially as it targets deployments in high scanning volume environments.
While limitations such as readability, camera quality, and lighting do exist when only scanning using the built-in camera, the Scandit case and Cognex StingRay look to mitigate these issues with the scanner SDKs. The adoption rates of these camera enhancement solutions will depend on organizations’ adoption of consumer devices, ROI expectations, and application requirements.