This diminutive scanner reads data matrix barcodes and was developed at Omnica for a special project. It weighs only a tenth of an ounce and is much smaller than any commercially available barcode reader.
In a past OMNIview, we discussed how the smaller size of today’s electronic devices gives us more design and engineering latitude. We pushed the size envelope when one of our clients hired us to build a diagnostic device that would require a very small barcode reader. One which could, despite its small size, make the best use of existing data matrix barcode technology. In our prospective design, space was so tight, no barcode reader currently available would have suited our needs.
The data matrix barcode contains a lot of information.
The plan was to communicate the information in the barcode to a printer and to the assay detector in a tabletop diagnostic device we were developing. We chose to use a NASA-developed scalable data matrix standard, which offered the possibility of including an extraordinary amount of data in a very small space (about the size of your little fingernail). There was a mitigating factor, however. If the barcode image was not properly printed and presented, the contained information could be easily corrupted. Our challenge was to build the smallest possible reader that correctly interpreted and relayed critical information even if the printed image of the code itself was somehow blemished or distorted.
Specialized optics and error correction algorithms.
We developed an optics design that included a special lens and a customized LED light source to supply consistent light intensity and uniformity as the coded image was being read. As importantly, our perseverance in advancing the state-of-the-art in barcode image processing allowed us to make the best use of effective and robust error correction algorithms.
The tiny barcode contains a tremendous amount of data.
Our miniature reader has to decode the data even if the
printed image is not positioned perfectly on the plastic assay cassette.
The end result was the successful development of a miniature and easily manufacturable barcode reader, which improved usability of an existing technology. The diminutive device is used to read the data symbols on the assay cassette shown above. The reader (also called a scanner) is tiny, about the size of a postage stamp, and weighs only a tenth of an ounce. Compared to the smallest barcode reader commercially available, it is less than half the size.
* We have had many readers inquire where they could purchase the barcode reader described in this article for use in other projects. It was developed for a client to be used in a specific application. It is not for sale or commercially available from us or our client.