The new generation of low cost smart phones and tablets opens up a wide variety of new business opportunities for route sales and DSD companies. However, while running a direct store delivery program on an Android-based device is easy to understand and train, barcode scanning is a challenge, to say the least. Cameras don’t work well as scanning devices, so the solution for many is a Bluetooth or tethered scanner. Unfortunately, this leads to another set of issues. Now, you need two hands—one to operate the scanner and one to operate the DSD program. Another problem is that battery life is short, and according to Shane Langston, “short battery life can be a real issue in scan intensive environments where workers absolutely rely on their barcode scanners.”
So, what is one to do? There are several options. Socket Mobile and Opticon both make barcode scanners for Android and iOS. There is also a new generation of products coming soon from Honeywell and Motorola, which could provide a solution once and for all. It’s not known when these products will hit the market, however, so for now, we recommend Motorola’s RS507, hands-free cordless imager that is worn on your fingers, just like a ring. It includes an imager that is capable of reading 1D and 2D barcodes, and the battery life is a bit longer than other products on the market (somewhere between ten and twenty hours, depending on how frequently it is used for scanning).