Monday, May 03, 2010

Barcode scanning on iPad

Today I received the iPad Camera Connection Kit. As the name implies, it is designed for connecting a camera to the iPad for the purpose of importing photos. And that's the primary reason I bought it.

But, another point of interest for me was the kit provides a USB host port on the iPad. Although not really publicized, the USB functionality of the iPad allows it to act as both a USB function and a USB host controller (it is in function mode when docked with a PC/Mac and is in host mode when a camera or other device is attached to it).

As a result, when the camera kit adapter is connected, you can plug in all sorts of USB function devices, such as keyboards, USB headset, etc.

So this got me thinking... what other USB devices might work? One USB device I happened to have handy is an old Symbol barcode scanner. I plugged it in, and sure enough, it works!

This could potentially open up all sorts of ideas for using the iPad for workforce automation. Of course, this isn't an official use of the iPad Camera Connection Kit, and in fact, it does have some serious limitations as is. First, when the barcode scanner is initially plugged in, an alert pops up stating that the device is unsupported. Second, since the barcode scanner is identified as an input device, it prevents the onscreen keyboard from appearing. While plugged in, you are limited to only being able to input text data via the barcode scanner.

I don't expect to find myself keeping a barcode scanner plugged into my iPad all day, but if I did need to capture a bunch of barcodes while away from my PC, it is an option.

Now if they'd only come out with a version of Delicious Library for iPad...


BarcodeGuyC said...

"We have a bluetooth scanner that works with the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The 200i and 300i both use an SDK for software developers but you can scan barcodes into a file to download to your PC later. This is the only barcode scanner available where you can leave the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch in your pocket or on your desk and display prompts on the barcode scanner screen. It's the size of a Zippo lighter and can be programmed easily with operator prompts. You can see it in action at The videos will only take a couple of minutes to watch. Here are the links:
Bluetooth Barcode Scanner Connection
Bluetooth Barcode Scanner Communication

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input. I've got the same scanners and will be using them with an iphone application. Do you have any pointers on being able to use the virtual keyboard AND scanner at the same time?