Sorry, Motorola: We’re faster than you think

Recently we stumbled across a Motorola Solutions sales presentation that makes the claim that their SE4500 barcode engine can scan 20x-50x faster than Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK (page 10).

Sorry, Motorola, we’re faster than you think.

In their presentation Motorola Solutions references the Scandit performance page, which at one time featured data that showed Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK as having average total scan time of ~2 seconds. This data was from performance tests that were completed in 2011, which at the time demonstrated the superior performance of our Barcode Scanner SDK vs. other SDKs. In the Motorola Solutions report, scan speed performance is determined by the time it takes to process a single camera image (frames/scans per second). They incorrectly presumed we were using the same metric.

The data listed on our site showed the total scan time it took a user to scan a barcode on a particular product in our user testing. This includes: grabbing the product, finding the barcode on the product and the time to successfully scan it. Despite Motorola Solutions’ assertion, this number would not be much different using a Motorola scanner. And we’re doing tests right now to prove it.

This misunderstanding raises an important point. We (and the entire industry) have struggled to define a single metric that accurately reflects scan speed performance. Many companies have traditionally used the time it takes to process a single camera image (frames/scans per second) for their spec sheets, but this is misleading. While useful for determining performance in use cases involving fast moving objects (e.g. on a conveyor belt), this metric is misleading in use cases involving human interaction. Instead, we chose to measure our performance in a more practical way, by measuring the total time it takes to scan. This makes sense when you consider that the vast majority of use cases require human interaction, including the healthcare scenarios mentioned in Motorola’s presentation.

Three years ago it took around 2 seconds for a person to grab a product, find and scan a barcode using a smartphone powered by Scandit’s barcode scanning technology. Since then the devices and the software have only gotten better. See for yourself:

To settle the debate (for now) we’ll be releasing some new user studies in the coming months. Stay tuned.