Mobile Applications Driving the Need for Mobile Bar Code-Enabled Scanners


John Britts, Senior Director for Advanced Data Capture at Motorola Solutions, explains the dramatic shift toward mobile bar code scanning solutions, and describes Motorola's top five mobile bar code-enabled scanners.

The smartphone continues to transform the way consumers get their information as mobile applications influence and change the way consumers behave. With more than 185 billion mobile applications expected to be downloaded by 2014*, there is no question that consumers are in the driver’s seat and the evolution of mobile applications is well underway.

It’s hard to imagine not being able to quickly access the mobile applications we take for granted today. But the truth is that mobile applications as we have come to know them are a relatively new phenomenon born just a few short years ago. Just five years ago, the mobile devices most people carried were feature phones – phones that were primarily used for talking or texting. Internet-enabled phones were largely used by executives and road warriors to access email. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone and the game changed. The iPhone transformed the way people interacted with their mobile devices.

When Apple opened its App Store in 2008 it unleashed mobile applications and their unlimited possibilities upon the world. The Android platform followed suit and today smartphone penetration nears 50 percent and mobile communications as we know it are forever changed.

Today’s Internet-enabled mobile devices have reset the expectations of customers across the board. Easy, quick and reliable access to information has never been more in demand. Today’s consumers have come to expect a certain level of service delivered right to their mobile devices from the businesses that they interact with on a regular basis. This expectation has opened new opportunities for bar codes and bar code technology that didn’t exist before.

Every day, we see more and more mobile applications being launched that are tied to mobile bar codes. Mobile bar codes are bar codes that are delivered to the screen of a mobile phone, tablet or even the screen of a computer. But, not just any bar code scanner can read a mobile bar code. In order to read a mobile bar code, regardless of whether it’s a 1D bar code or a 2D bar code, you need a mobile bar code-enabled imager. A linear imager can read a 1D mobile bar code and 2D array imagers can read both 1D and 2D bar codes. Laser scanners generally cannot read mobile bar codes and because traditional laser scanners represent a very large percentage of the installed base of bar code scanners, the need to read mobile bar codes is creating a historic demand for upgrades to imaging technology.

In the hospitality industry, there are brand new opportunities for reading bar codes from smartphones in places like quick service restaurants (QSR) and at movie theaters where mobile coupons and e-tickets sent directly to the mobile device are on the rise. In transportation, the e-ticket and mobile boarding pass are now mainstream applications regularly used by millions of travelers every day.

In the retail sector, customers now expect to scan bar codes to comparison shop in their favorite stores. They want mobile coupons sent directly to their phones so they don’t need to clip paper and then remember to bring it to the store. Shoppers expect to be able to upload their loyalty cards to their smartphones for easy access whenever they need it. They want to be able to purchase and upload gift cards to their devices so they never have to worry about leaving home without them.

Motorola Solutions has a complete portfolio of mobile bar code-enabled bar code scanners designed to meet the needs and price points of customers across a wide variety of vertical markets. All of the imagers in Motorola’s mobile bar code-enabled portfolio have been designed to read both traditional paper-based bar codes as well as those presented on the screen of a digital device. Following are five of Motorola’s most popular scanners that can read mobile bar codes.


Motorola_DS9808_mobile_bar_code_scanningThe DS9808 is a corded 2D array imager featuring a one-of-a-kind form factor that provides superior comfort and ease of use in both handheld and hands-free scanning modes. With record fast swipe speeds for 1D and 2D bar codes, the DS9808 delivers a new level of productivity. This is an ideal choice for retailers who have a broad mix of merchandise and require the ability to alternate between scanning smaller items and moving toward larger, bulky items that might be difficult to lift.

The DS9808 is offered in three variations: the DS9808-SR, which offers standard range and the DS9808-LR, which provides users with the ability to scan as far away as 18 inches away making it an ideal checkout solution for retailers selling bulky or heavy items.

Motorola also recently introduced the DS9808-R, the industry’s first combination 1D/2D bar code scanner and RFID reader. This also is the first combination handheld/hands-free UHF RFID reader. The DS9808-R complements Motorola’s RFID portfolio, allowing retailers to easily implement RFID from the receiving dock to the check stand. Retailers can now realize the proven benefits of real-time item level inventory visibility, including: timely re-ordering to eliminate out-of-stocks and the associated lost sales; increased inventory turns, which in turn reduce inventory carrying costs; real-time trending analysis for better purchasing decisions that put more of the products that customers really want on store shelves; and the ability to ensure timely replenishment of shelves — with minimal human intervention.


The cordless DS6878 2D array imager streamlines and helps to error-proof everyday processes in various retail and hospitality environments where thereMotorola_DS6878_mobile_bar_code_scanning is a need for high-performance 2D bar code scanning combined with the flexibility offered by cordless Bluetoothcapabilities. The DS6878 is an excellent choice in a variety of retail environments where there is a need to move beyond the cash wrap to the bar code. It is ideally suited for DIY, mass merchandise, and department stores. The comfortable and easy-to-use device offers “laser-like” speed on all types of bar codes and with the optional hands-free presentation cradle, the imager can also capture signatures, documents, photos, and text in documents and even the numeric information on the bottom of checks.

The DS6878 is offered in three variations: the DS6878-SR, which offers the standard cordless functionality described above, the DS6878-HC, which is disinfectant-ready and designed specifically for use in healthcare settings and the DS6878-DL, which adds the ability to decode the bar codes found on U.S. driver’s licenses automating age and identity verification as well as the auto-population of credit applications and admission forms.


Motorola_DS9208_mobile_bar_code_scanningThe affordable DS9208 presentation imager has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the broadest audience of customers. This corded, hands- free device provides superior comfort in both hands-free and handheld scanning modes and easily switches back and forth between modes. Its contemporary design and tiny footprint can fit into even the most space-constrained, design conscious checkout stands. This device is an excellent choice for specialty retailers where the sleek look of the device complements many of today’s minimalistic check out styles as well as in convenience stores where there is a need to utilize space for impulse purchases. In hospitality, the DS9208 is an ideal choice for quick service restaurants because it can easily be used in handheld mode to scan the mobile coupons from a customer’s mobile device. In travel, the DS9208 can be used at the ticketing customer service counter or at the departure gate.


The corded DS4208 provides affordable, high-performance 2D imaging, delivering blazing laser-quality speed on both 1D and 2D bar codes. With an ergonomically friendly gun-style design this device is designed to meet the basic needs of most customers. In most retail environments, the DS4208 is an excellent choice as a standalone device or for use as a secondary scanner attached to a Bioptic. In other markets such as education this device is sought after for use in libraries and college bookstores because of its very attractive price point.


The cordless LI4278 takes 1D bar code scanning to the next level, allowing workers to scan faster and farther as they can capture virtually any 1D bar code. This linear imager is for customers who only need to read 1D mobile or traditional bar codes and for those upgrading from Motorola’s LS4278 laser scanner. The LI4278 is ideal for retailers of all sizes and those with a broad mix of merchandise. It can also be used in hospitality for theaters and entertainment venues where 1D e-tickets or loyalty cards need to be scanned.

*Source: Gartner, January 2011

About Motorola Solutions

Motorola Solutions is a leading provider of mission-critical communication solutions and services for enterprise and government customers. Through leading-edge innovation and communications technology, it is a global leader that enables its customers to be their best in the moments that matter. Motorola Solutions trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “MSI.” To learn more, visit

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