While there are a variety of methods for electronic data capturing, the interest here is in image-based technologies. Increasingly, optical-based technologies eliminate the need to key in data (a major source of data entry error) as well as voluminous files of paper documents by maintaining electronic copies.
One commonly used technology is bar coding. Bar code readers are devices that use light reflection to read differences in bar code patterns in order to identify a labeled item. While the most common place consumers see bar code readers is in grocery and department stores, bar coding systems are also used extensively by warehouses for inventory tracking. Similarly, delivery and courier companies frequently use such coding systems to track inventory items and packages during shipping transfers. The next time you receive a delivery from Federal Express or United Parcel Services, notice the bar codes on the package that were used to track its delivery to you.
Utility and credit card companies frequently ask customers to handwrite the amount of the payment on the remittance slip. In such cases, optical character recognition (OCR) is used—similar to the way bar code readers work—for pattern recognition of handwritten or printed characters. Both bar code readers and OCR are technologies designed to eliminate the need to key in data and reduce the accompanying risk of error.
A third optical input technology is the scanner. Scanners are input devices that capture printed images or documents and convert them into electronic digital signals (i.e., into binary representations of the printed image or document) that can be stored and manipulated on computer media. Scanners are key to the increased use of electronic digital imaging to drive business processes and facilitate management decision making.
a. Explain how bar code readers work.
b. Explain how optical character recognition works and how it differs from bar code technology.
c. Explain how scanners are used to capture data.