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There are number of tasks throughout the warehouse that require barcode scanning as part of the materials handling process. Often we are asked whether it makes sense to integrate smart glasses with hand-held laser and RFID based scanners (laser 1D, 2D, and RFID), or forego scanning equipment and simply use the built-in camera within the smart glasses to handle scanning.

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Which method is best will often come down to ergonomics and the material handling setting. Laser and RFID-based scanning techniques tend to be more reliable and can be used universally under any conditions or materials handling environment, but come at an additional cost to the AR solution.

skylight augmented reality glasses being used in logistics by a picker

Camera-based scanning on smart glasses adds little to no incremental cost, but is limited by the fact that barcodes must be “visible” to the onboard computer vision algorithm. This is a function of the distance between the head-worn camera on the smart glasses and the barcode, size, type and lighting conditions. A familiar example is scanning barcodes and QR codes with a smartphone. The barcode has to be targeted specifically and put into the frame by placing the phone within a foot.

In warehouses with bulky and heavy items, being able to lift items or move the head to properly frame the barcode is far less desirable than simply scanning with a wrist or finger-worn wearable barcode scanner with the arm extended. This becomes especially cumbersome in high volume environments.

In our experience, the most commonly deployed AR solution in material handling environments where scanning is a requirement will include smart glasses running software that is paired with Bluetooth enabled ring and wrist-worn scanners. This underscores the importance of considering AR platforms like Skylight that can integrate with existing supply chain and warehouse systems and connected tools, such as wearable and handheld barcode scanners (laser 1D, 2D and RFID).

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