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...