A drug store employee scans the barcode on a customer's item
By Maulin Sheth | December 15, 2023

You Can Now Connect Your Zebra Mobile Computers with New Barcode Scanners and Point of Sale Devices in Just a Few Minutes (without Any Technical Know How)

New universal software interfaces and DataWedge APIs enable you to make these critical connections without having to make any software upgrades.  

No matter what your job is, I bet you spend at least some time every day thinking about your current technology systems and processes, wondering what you can do to streamline your operations, enhance productivity, and make it easier for everyone in your organization to get more done in a day. 

Well, so do I. My colleagues are the same way as well. Except, we’re thinking about the changes we can make to our technology – to the hardware and software design – to make your job easier. 

One thing in particular that’s been on our minds is the technology deployment experience. We know that between device refreshes, workforce and facility expansions, and the digitalization of new workflows, you’re constantly onboarding new mobile computers and barcode scanners. You may even be connecting more advanced Bluetooth or USB scanners to those mobile computers as your team works to get a grip on equipment maintenance or on-hand inventory quantities.

That means someone in your organization is probably bogged down by complicated installation cycles, either waiting for the software updates needed to ensure the new scanners are compatible with your existing Android mobile computers or waiting on someone with the technical know-how to get the mobile computers to talk to the barcode scanners. This could be you, someone in IT, or perhaps even store or warehouse managers who don’t really have the time to spend all day managing constant technology deployments or updates. What’s worse, whoever is charged with getting new scanners online may ultimately realize that they aren’t compatible with your existing mobile computers and that a simple software update to those mobile computers won’t be sufficient to fix the compatibility issue.

In those cases, you’ll have no choice but to replace your current mobile computers with new ones that can talk to your new barcode scanners, making everyone’s jobs harder and contributing to operational performance issues. (If the scanners don’t work and you can’t get an accurate inventory count, that’s a problem.) 

Trust me, I feel your pain.

That’s why I’m hoping what I’m about to say will relieve it. There is now a way to connect new scanners with your deployed mobile computers – at least if you’re using Zebra devices.

My team and I have developed a set of universal software interfaces that enable you to quickly sync Zebra Android devices with our ever-expanding range of Zebra USB barcode scanners, Bluetooth scanners, and point of sale (POS) bioptic scanners. These interfaces are baked into Zebra’s Android handheld mobile computers and tablets as of today, which means you can now effortlessly sync these particular Zebra scanners with Zebra mobile devices, and your existing applications and workflows will remain uninterrupted! As our barcode scanning portfolio grows, so will the list of scanners that you’ll be able to onboard using these universal software interfaces.

I’m sure you’re curious about how the “plug and play” integration works, so let me give you the high-level rundown.


Making the Connection

When you’re ready to connect a new Zebra barcode scanner to a Zebra Android mobile computer or tablet you’ve already deployed, the universal software interface we’ve built into our mobile computers will automatically identify and configure the scanner for optimal performance. All you, or someone on the ground at the deployment location, will have to do is... 

  1. grab the new barcode scanner (Bluetooth or USB), 
  2. verify through the scanner specification that it supports Simple Serial Interface Mode (SSI Mode), and 
  3. connect the new scanner with the Zebra Android mobile computer, just like you connect your existing Bluetooth or USB barcode scanner.

To configure the new scanner with the synced mobile computer, you will also have the power to use either DataWedge APIs and/or the config file. 

For your POS devices, the universal interface uses IBM Table-top USB mode. However, to make it even easier to configure the POS devices, we are advancing our POS universal interface so that you will soon have the power to use the DataWedge APIs and/or config file to configure your POS devices as well, just like you would your other barcode scanners.

You don’t need any technical know-how to make these connections. You won’t have to make any software updates to your Zebra Android mobile devices either, unless you’re trying to add a new barcode scanner feature that requires a quick DataWedge software update to support the feature. However, that would be an exception, not the rule. Even if you must update DataWedge to take advantage of a new barcode scanner feature down the line, the reality is that anyone can manage that DataWedge update. The days of prolonged, complicated installation processes that require extensive IT support are gone. 

The universal software interface on the mobile computer adapts to the scanner, not the other way around, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Even better, the interfaces are both forward and backward-compatible, meaning you’ll be able to connect any current or future-generation Zebra Android devices to legacy, current and future-generation Zebra USB, Bluetooth, and POS scanners.

That’s not all, though.

We’ve already integrated these universal software interfaces with Zebra DataWedge APIs to give you the power to develop your own applications that can be tailored to your specific needs. This means that you can create applications that work flawlessly with your current USB scanners, Bluetooth scanners, and POS devices while also ensuring application compatibility with future devices in the same categories.


In Other Words

Now that these universal software interfaces exist and we’ve integrated them with DataWedge APIs, every new scanner (or mobile computer) deployment is going to be super-fast and simple. The time you’ll spend configuring the new scanners to ensure they are properly synced with your mobile computers and time it will take to train staff, will be significantly reduced moving forward. This will enable you (and your team) to focus on core tasks versus spending days, weeks, or even months trying to get the new scanning technology properly working with the mobile computers like you would if the universal software interfaces weren’t available. And since you’ll be able to seamlessly integrate new devices without any disruption to your existing workflows, you’ll be able to save money, preserve both frontline and IT teams’ productivity levels during new device deployments, and more easily refresh or expand your mobile computer and scanner fleets as needed.



Editor’s Note:

If you’re looking for more technical details about how the universal software interfaces work or how to use the DataWedge APIs to develop scanning applications, click here

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Maulin Sheth
Maulin Sheth, Principal Software Engineer, Zebra Technologies

Maulin Sheth is currently the Principal Software Engineer at Zebra, where he is responsible for developing software solutions using Zebra’s barcode scanners for Android-based devices.

Maulin has more than 15 years of experience within the enterprise domain and has successfully developed software solutions using barcode scanners. He has developed software solutions like NexGen SimulScan, universal software interfaces for supporting barcode scanners, etc. He has also filed several patents.

Previously, he served as Senior Software Engineer with Motorola Mobility, where he was developing device drivers on Windows Mobile-based smartphones.  Maulin holds a bachelor's degree in electronics and communication from Government Engineering College, Gujarat, India 

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