How does a barcode reader work

When you go to a super market, buy something and checkout at cashier, shop assistant often read the barcode sticker labels on the goods by a barcode reader. How does it work?

At first, there need a media which carried data and information of goods. Barcode sticker labels are the media.

Barcode is the small image of lines (bars) and spaces that is affixed to retail store items, identification cards, and postal mail to identify a particular product number, person, or location. The code uses a sequence of vertical bars and spaces to represent numbers and other symbols. A bar code symbol typically consists of five parts: a quiet zone, a start character, data characters (including an optional check character), a stop character, and another quiet zone.

Then with this media, barcode reader can uses a laser beam that is sensitive to the reflections from the line and space thickness and variation. The reader translates the reflected light into digital data that is transferred to a computer for immediate action or storage. Bar codes and readers are most often seen in supermarkets and retail stores, but a large number of different uses have been found for them. They are also used to take inventory in retail stores; to check out books from a library; to track manufacturing and shipping movement; to sign in on a job; to identify hospital patients; and to tabulate the results of direct mail marketing returns. Very small bar codes have been used to tag honey bees used in research. Readers may be attached to a computer (as they often are in retail store settings) or separate and portable, in which case they store the data they read until it can be fed into a computer.
In a fast and convenient information society, barcode sticker labels and barcode reader are indispensable.

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