A barcode reader is a portable optical scanner that can read printed barcodes and then translate the encoded data into binary data suitable for a computer. Like a typical flatbed scanner, it usually comes with a photodiodes laser which converts the optical signals into electrical pulses, translating the light signal into electrical pulses. This enables the device to be used as a simple bi-directional scanner or as a fully automatic unit, reading and decoding data from different types of sources at very high speeds. One of the most common uses for barcode readers is inventory and point of sale (POS) applications.
Modern barcode readers are also equipped with software that automatically begins scanning and decoding the barcodes once installed in the system. This software then enables the scanning and decoding process to run in a seamless manner even without human intervention.