Barcodes have a unique challenge. Whether printed, etched, engraved or stamped onto their substrate, they’re obligated to remain readable however long traceability is required. This could be anywhere from a few hours to several decades, and the viability of the track, trace and control system depends on them throughout this time. Given that these codes carry essential data through some of the harshest manufacturing environments, it’s no wonder that even the best of them start to fade.
Some barcodes start out with disadvantages. They could be handicapped by materials that lead to poor contrast from the very beginning. They could be crammed inside a tiny housing that doesn’t offer the luxury of a quiet zone (the blank space that surrounds most well-formed codes). They could have been skewed during the printing process and doomed to a life of misunderstanding. Fortunately, Omron Microscan’s highly advanced X-Mode technology has a solution for all these problems and more. Let’s look at a few ways this software helps codes deal with a variety of challenges.
Patching Up Pattern Damage
When codes are damaged, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Enough redundancy is built into certain symbologies, such as Data Matrix, that a top-notch reader can tease out their data even when 50% of the pattern has been obstructed. X-Mode targets this redundancy with aggressive decoding algorithms to proactively fill in the missing elements. Thanks to the symbol reconstruction functionality that combines numerous incomplete segments into a complete and well-formed symbol, X-Mode can work around damaged codes that stump other readers.
Realigning Off-Kilter Codes
Like a chiropractic treatment for skewed symbols, X-Mode adjusts codes that have been distorted during the printing process. Skewing often occurs if an object moves unexpectedly while a barcode is being applied to it. Deviation from the perfect square shape of the ideal 2D code – technically known as “axial non-uniformity” or “grid non-uniformity” – can cause a no-read for basic readers that have little in the way of corrective software. X-Mode, however, knows how to undo the distortion and present a perfectly-formed symbol.
Reclaiming Quiet in a Noisy Environment
Barcodes deprived of a quiet zone are like city-dwellers who work the night shift. They’re expected to function well despite being constantly bombarded by distractions in ways that their peers just don’t understand. Of course, somebody needs to take over that consumer electronics position. The codes that get placed on crowded PCBs have many challenges, but they do have one entity that’s truly on their side: X-Mode. The software includes a “Narrow Quiet Zone” feature that ensures readability in restrictive conditions that would befuddle the average reader.
With X-mode enabled decoding for 1D/2D or DPM codes, the ultra-compact MicroHAWK ID-40 Barcode Reader is the complete package for solving any barcode reading challenge under any condition.
Giving Codes a Chance to Shine
X-Mode has a way of showing the world that those low-contrast codes aren’t as dull as they look. Depending on the surface a barcode is applied to and the method used to apply it, contrast can be a major problem. The tendency of codes to fade over time further exacerbates this issue. X-Mode uses a variety of advanced image processing algorithms that can greatly decrease the likelihood of no-reads. Since shiny surfaces can contribute significantly to contrast problems, X-Mode also analyzes the gradients within captured images to detect reflective spots and make smart selections regarding the location of code elements.
Given the impressive power of X-Mode to make the most of a tough situation, it’s no surprise that this trusty software is a staple of many Omron Microscan devices. The guarantee of quick and accurate reads in even the worst of circumstances provides an enormous benefit to manufacturers who crave hassle-free traceability. Barcodes are often less than perfect, but with X-Mode, their imperfections will rarely – if ever – stall the production line.
Ultra-rugged HS-360X Handheld Barcode Reader includes industry-leading X-Mode decoding algorithms to consistently read damaged, distorted or otherwise challenging directly marked codes at high decode rates.
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