Why Hololens is the Next Big Disruptor in Mobile Barcode Scanning

Scandit launched on the idea of harnessing the disruptive potential of the smartphone to capture and distribute data. The smartphone has proven an ideal platform for harnessing information contained in barcodes, QR codes and other scannable formats. We have steadily expanded our range of scanning devices to include emerging mobile form factors such as tablets, wearables, smart eyewear, drones, and even robots.

Now Scandit is turning our attention to a new emerging technology – Microsoft HoloLens. This holographic computer system features see-through, holographic, high-definition lenses and spatial sound so users can see and hear holograms in the physical world around them. HoloLens is not yet in widespread use. However, we think the technology will have a major impact on the future of mobile barcode scanning and data capture.

How HoloLens Will Evolve Data Capture
A number of data capture use cases for HoloLens come to mind. For example, a warehouse associate with a HoloLens headset could be directed with virtual markers to the correct items. They could then use the built-in HoloLens camera for hands-free scanning. HoloLens could also indicate where an item should be placed once it is scanned, or deliver additional information about scanned objects.

In addition, augmented reality overlays could provide assistance to field engineers and quality assurance personnel. An item in need of repair might have a hologram indicating the location and nature of the problem. Or service personnel could be shown the correct outlet for a disconnected cable. Once the necessary fixes were in place, staffers could then scan confirmation with the built-in HoloLens camera.

There are still several technical issues that must be resolved with the HoloLens platform before it can truly achieve its potential in the mobile data capture space. It currently requires a big, heavy headset. Battery life is short, lasting about two hours to support a typical HoloLens augmented reality application. However, battery packs can help mitigate this issue.

In addition, the field of view for a HoloLens headset is limited, although suitable for most scanning use cases. Software development is complex, with applications built in the Unity 3D game engine. The low-resolution HoloLens camera offers a more limited scan range than a traditional smartphone, tablet or wearable device camera.

Despite these challenges, Scandit is optimistic about the long-range prospects for HoloLens. That is why we are actively supporting emerging technology efforts like the recent HackZurich 2016 European hacking event. Scandit was among the startup sponsors with a booth in the main hall that offered hackers the opportunity to experience our scanning technology firsthand using mobile devices, smart glasses and AR headsets like HoloLens.

Interested in next-generation barcode scanning with wearable devices? Watch our Pick by Vision video featuring barcode scanning and order picking with Google Glass.