How We Built an Ergonomic Smartphone Scanner for Frontline Workers


SparkScan scanning user interface, designed for capturing barcodes at scale

Scandit - Christian Floerkemeier

What do you need to turn a smartphone into an ergonomic barcode scanner? A scanner suitable not just for a few scans a day, but for jobs such as last mile delivery or store operations that require hundreds of scans every hour?

At Scandit, we’ve been working on this problem for years. Our core scanning technology already powers the smartphone applications of thousands of customers. It’s turned millions of smartphones into high-performance barcode scanners.

Today, I’m proud to introduce SparkScan, the newest product in our Smart Data Capture Platform. It condenses our years of experience into an out-of-the-box barcode scanner for smartphones available to everyone, and ready with a few lines of code.

SparkScan is a pre-built ergonomic scanner with a user interface that floats on top of any smartphone application. It combines Scandit’s unmatched scanning speed and accuracy with an interface optimized for every detail of ergonomics and efficiency.

Why smartphones are now the best barcode readers

The smartphone in your pocket is, according to Samsung, almost a thousand times faster than the mid-’80s Cray-2 Supercomputer. It’s also several multiples faster than the computer on NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover, and probably also faster than your laptop.

This mobile supercomputer has already replaced all sorts of devices. Cameras, camcorders, sat-nav, portable music players, calculators, even torches have all been sucked into the ubiquitous smartphone.

So is it time for the dedicated barcode scanner to be sucked in as well? After all, today’s smartphones are robust, versatile, affordable, powerful and ridiculously easy to scale.

With the right software, smartphones now closely match dedicated scanners on scan-by-scan performance. And with battery life extended and 5G boosting speed and coverage, connectivity is all but assured.

Last-mile delivery worker using camera-based scanning and Scandit SparkScan to scan a barcode.

Are all barcode scanners the same?

But while using a phone as a basic barcode scanner is easy, it takes expertise and intensive attention to detail to turn a smartphone into a truly ergonomic scanner. A scanner that’s suitable for complex, repetitive or intensive scanning, and for workflows where every second and every movement matters.

Issues with ergonomics are a common barcode scanning challenge when it comes to mobile barcode scanning. To make a smartphone into an ergonomic scanner, you need to consider the entire user experience. What are the actions the user wants to achieve, and the conditions they face? How does this affect the way the user holds the phone, presses the scan button, and positions it to capture barcodes quickly and accurately?

Fast smartphone scanning

SparkScan turns smartphones into ergonomic, high-volume barcode scanners in minutes.
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SparkScan crystallizes our years of experience in answering these questions into an out-of-the-box integration that’s ready with a few lines of code. It includes not just Scandit’s unparalleled scanning speed and accuracy, but also a built-in interface where every detail is designed for fast, simple and ergonomic scanning.

Ergonomic smartphone scanning in minutes

SparkScan’s built-in interface fits over the top of any native app. Scanning is frictionless. Users can access SparkScan by swiping or tapping a collapsed floating button. Then, they just point and scan using the large, moveable, semi-transparent scan button.

They can hold the phone with one hand only, scan from any orientation, and scan without relying on a screen for aiming. Naturally, users can also adjust settings such as turning on audio and haptic feedback, or switching to left-handed mode. SparkScan can even be configured to use the phone’s physical volume button as a scan trigger.

We also know that users have different preferences, and that different industries have different scanning requirements. Scanning goods in-store to fulfill an order is subtly different to the scan a delivery driver does on a package at your door.

We’ve built adaptive scanning modes into SparkScan to make it easy to handle different scenarios. With Continuous Mode, you can avoid the need to tap on the button before every scan.

Target Mode lets you scan at a distance, without having to bend down or reach up far. An aimer allows you to select a single barcode, even when many are in the field of view. Future developments will incorporate advanced smart data capture functionality, such as scanning multiple barcodes simultaneously.


How turning smartphones into ergonomic scanners unlocks digital transformation

At Scandit, we speak to thousands of customers improving efficiency by integrating smart data capture. Our enterprise-level success team and in-house UX experts obsess over every detail of the scanning experience to help them succeed.

And because we’ve obsessed over every detail, you now don’t have to. SparkScan allows anyone to integrate our years of scanning expertise in a matter of minutes.

We’ve also found from working with customers that switching to high-quality scanning on smartphones is more than just a cost-saving exercise. It’s a catalyst for wider digital transformation.

When UK retailer River Island broke away from shared, single-use handheld scanners, they used the cheaper cost of smartphones as an opportunity to provide every store associate with a personalized device.

River Island retail associates using Scandit camera-based scanning on smartphones.

River Island found this simple act was a key that unlocked multiple doors in digital transformation. By simply having their own device, store associates could access information instantly to answer customer queries, and, with one touch, seamlessly communicate with each other and with head office.

Interested to find out what could happen if you turned smartphones into intuitive, ergonomic scanners? Find out more about SparkScan features, integration and use cases on the SparkScan product page.