Types of Scanner and Reading Devices

Scanner and Reading devices are used to input data from a printed paper by scanning it. The input may consist of text or graphics. Let’s read the complete topic to learn more.

Optical Scanner

scannerAn optical scanner is a light-sending input device. It reads hard copy text and graphics and then produces the results into digital form. The flatbed scanner is an important type of digital scanner.  It works same as a photocopy machine. It also creates a copy of the documents in the memory. After scanning, the user can store it permanently, print it, fax it, send an email or include it in another document.

The quality of a scanner is measured by the number of bits in a dot and number of bits per inch. The optical resolution of some affordable scanners is from 600 to 3000 dpi.


Scanners are also used in image processing. Image processing is a process of capturing, storing, analyzing, displaying, printing and manipulating images.

Many scanners also provide optical character recognition (OCR)software. OCR software can read and convert many types of text documents. For example, an OCR software can read the image of a text file and then convert it into a text file that can be edited easily.

Optical Readers


An optical reader is a device that read characters, marks, and codes by using a light source. The optical reader converts that data into digital form. After that, this converted data can be processed by a computer.

Types of Optical Reader/ Scanner


  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)
  • Barcode Scanner/ Reader
  • Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)



Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

scannerOCR is a technology that translates typewritten, computer-printed or handwritten characters from normal documents. Then it translates the images into a form that can be easily understood by the computer. Most OCR devices use a small optical scanner to read characters and sophisticated software to analyze them.

Furthermore,  the OCR devices read printed characters using an OCR font. Most commonly used OCR font is called OCR-A. an OCR device determines the shapes of characters by detecting patterns of light and dark. OCR software compares these shapes with predefined shapes stored in memory and converts the shapes into characters.

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)


OMR stand for optical mark recognition. A light beam is used by these devices to scan and input data. After scanning, OMR converts that input data into electrical/ digital signals. The signals are then sent to the computer for other processing. These devices are also used to check tests or surveys such as SAT and GRE etc.

Barcode Scanner/ Reader

scannerA laser beam is being used by the bar code reader to read barcodes. Barcode is an identification code that consists of a set of vertical lines and spaces of different widths. The barcode represents data that identifies the manufacturer and the item.


Different products like groceries, pharmacy supplies, vehicles, mail, magazines, and books contain barcodes. Different types of barcodes are used.

Furthermore, the most popular are POSTNET used by U.S. postal service and Universal product code (UPC) used by retail and grocery stores.

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)


Magnetic-ink character recognition reader is used to read text printed with magnetic ink. It is used in bank industry for check processing. Each check contains MICR characters to the lower-left edge. These characters represent check number, bank number, and account number also.


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