In our previous posts we have been looking at types of input devices. We first looked at Keying or Text input devices where we discussed the keyboard as the main and most common keying input device. Our immediate previous post took a look at another category of input devices which are collectively known as Pointing input devices and there we talked about the mouse, touchpad, joystick, etc.
In this post, we will be discussing another group of input devices which are referred to as Source Data Entry or Scanning and Reading input devices. So stick with us and let’s delve into what kind of devices these are and see how we can identify them.
What are Source Data Entry OR Scanning and Reading Devices?
Source data entry or scanning and reading devices are input devices that capture data directly from the source without any keystroke or clicking from a mouse. As a result, it is the original form of data that is sent into the computer. Some of these devices are optical scanners or readers that use light source to read characters, marks, and codes and convert them into a digital form that can be used by the computer.
Examples of such devices include optical scanners, bar code readers, biometric readers/devices, radio frequency identification readers, optical character recognition (OCR) devices, optical mark recognition (OMR) devices, and magnetic-ink character recognition devices.
Usually known as a scanner, it is a frequently used input device for scanning and converting data (usually text and graphics) into digital images and send them into the computer. These data are often in the form of hardcopy documents, drawings and pictures which can be scanned into the form that can now be edited on the screen. There are different types of scanners, each for a particular purpose but the most common of them all are the Flatbed and Handheld scanners.
A barcode is an optical code consisting of vertical bars of varying widths or heights. Barcodes are read with barcode readers which use laser light that is reflected from the light spaces on the barcode (the dark bars absorb the light), and the barcode reader interprets the patterns of white space as the numbers
or characters represented by the barcode. Data associated with barcodes uniquely identify a product, shipped package or other items.
Biometrics is the study of using unique biological characteristics to identify individuals. Biometric readers are used to input biometric data about a person into a computer system so that the individual can be identified based on such unique physical characteristics of parts of the body. Such features that distinguishes a person include Fingerprint, Face, Voice, Iris and Retina of the eye, Skin, Hand geometry, Signature, etc. A biometric device can be standalone or built into another piece of hardware such as keyboard, mouse, storage devices like external hard drives and USB flash drives, and laptop computers. Biometric input devices are being used to restrict access to facilities or computer systems, authorize electronic payments, log on to secure Web sites, and many more.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Reader
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology used to store and transmit data located on RFID tags. RFID tags contain tiny chips and radio antennas and can be attached to objects like products, ID cards, assets, shipping containers, passports, cars, etc. The data in the tags are read by RFID readers whenever the items are within range of the reader (from two inches to 300 feet or more). RFID is being used for applications like tracking the movement of items the tags are attached to, as replacement for barcodes, and as part of an electronic payment system.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Device
Since a scanned page is merely an image that makes no distinction between words and pictures, an OCR technology is needed to turn a scanned image into editable text. These scanned pages could be typewritten, computer-printed, or hand-written characters. An OCR device uses a software that determines which bits are words, design elements and pictures so that they can be translated into a form the computer can process.
Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Device
OMR devices are special scanners that read hand-written marks such as small circles or rectangles. A person places these marks on a form such as a test, survey, or questionnaire answer sheet. The OMR scanner first reads a master document, such as an answer key sheet for a test, to record the correct answers based on the patterns of light. The remaining documents are then passed through the OMR scanner and their patterns of light are matched against the master document. They are widely used for marking objective shaded answer sheets for examinations.
Magnetic-Ink Character Recognition (MICR) Reader
An MICR reader is used to read text printed with magnetized ink. It is mostly used by the banking industry for checque processing. Each checque in a checque book has pre-coded MICR characters on the lower-left edge. These characters represent the bank number, customer’s account number, and the checque number. When a checque is presented for payment, the bank inserts it into the MICR reader, which sends the checque information including the amount on the checque to the computer for processing.
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