Graphic codes identification: scanners and imagers
Doesn’t matter if we talk of mobile or fixed devices, the main difference between scanners and imagers comes from their designation - what kind of graphic code they have to read.
Scanners (except RFID scanners) have integrated laser emitter and receiver which are able to recognize one-dimensional code only (so called bar-code). There are a lot of standards, such as UPC, EAN, JAN, GTIN and many others.
Imagers are more flexible on use. They can recognize and “read” both 1D and 2D codes (QR, DataMatrix, etc.). In fact the imagers are true digital cameras, furnished with embedded software for image recognition / interpretation.
Radiofrequency identification: RFID
On the other side of commercial identification of goods is the radio-frequency identification. Here the electromagnetic fields are used to discover, identify and track RF enabled tags (passive or active), which brings information of the object they are attached to. It could be either finished good or some kind of row material, and even transport vehicle.
Although it is rather advanced technology, the RFID has relatively limited application compare with the graphic codes in the warehousing and storage. It is because of many environmental and specific limitations of use, but also because of pricy equipment.
Besides of fixed mounted and hand-held scanners and imagers there is a class of mobile devices called mobile terminals. Those are sophisticated combination of micro-computer with integrated scanner/imager. With such device we can not only collect data, but also store it, communicate with broad spectrum of applications (incl. WMS) and RDBMS, as well. People could be managed through them (they can receive tasks and orders on screen), execute stock control, recognize items, etc. More or less the contemporary logistics is highly dependent of mobile terminals usage because they meet all requirements toward mobility, fast and accurate data collection, re-use of information. A great number of such devises are rather rugged and versatile. Coming in different form-factors, with different parameters and capabilities they serve in great variety of environments.