Zebra’s New Hand-Mounted Scanner Solution is Giving You (and Your Workers) One More Reason to Love Wearable Scanners

The Zebra RS5100 is still a wearable barcode scanner. But it’s not confined strictly to a finger anymore – and many front-line workers see this as a win.

The new Zebra RS5100 Enterprise Hand Mount
by Dan Baldwin
December 10, 2021

Everyone has their own style – from hair and clothes to communications and work. And while most companies have a dress code policy, I don’t think we should strictly dictate how workers accessorize, at least when it comes to technology.

Ring scanners are wildly popular, especially for use cases that don’t require maximum finger dexterity like small item picking or access to tight locations such as small picking bins and manufacturing assembly. So, we’re giving you options that don’t require you to rip and replace your company-owned ring scanners to give your workers comfortable, functional hands-free scanning tools for every scanning scenario.

Meet the Zebra RS5100 Enterprise Hand Mount.

The Zebra RS5100 Enterprise Hand Mount

If you look closely, you’ll see that is indeed a Zebra RS5100 “ring” scanner being worn on the back of the person’s hand. Although, to be fair, we can’t call it just a ring scanner anymore. With this new hand mount in the mix, the RS5100 can be worn several different ways:

1. On the back of the hand,

2. On a lanyard around the neck, or

3. On a single finger per usual (with a single or double trigger configuration).

So, with the launch of the new hand mount, the Zebra RS5100 has officially become a “Bluetooth® wearable scanner.” 

“Why a hand mount and why now?” you ask.

Wearables have been hot for a while now, their popularity gleaned from the freedom they provide users and the productivity they deliver (which contributes to the bottom line). With a barcode scanner such as the Zebra RS5100 on their hands, versus in them, properly equipped warehouse, retail and factory workers can safely move boxes and operate machinery, pick and pack orders, and quickly load containers and trailers. Even delivery drivers appreciate the option of keeping their mobile computers on their hips or in a pocket when scanning label barcodes to confirm package drop offs. So, we tried to strike a balance between function and flexibility – and we think we succeeded. Let us know if you agree.

By shifting the featherweight, rugged “ring” scanner a few inches up to the back of the hand and adding a thumb-push trigger on the pointer finger, we’ve made it just as easy to scan barcodes.

I’m sure you have a million questions, so let me address the top 10 I think are running through your mind right now:

1. Is the hand mount one-size fits all?

There are six different sizes to choose from, and each can be further adjusted to achieve the perfect fit.

2. How heavy is the ring scanner? Will it really be comfortable on the back of someone’s hand?

It only weighs 2.57 ounces – which is just a bit more than two AA batteries or regular size letter envelopes. (For more fun weight comparisons, check this out.) And, to ensure it’s balanced and comfortable, the mounted scanner can be adjusted left to right, closer to the thumb or anywhere on top of the hand. Even the scanner angle can be adjusted so workers don’t have to maneuver their wrists, shoulders or arms into awkward positions to use it. Comfort was the reason we introduced this new hand mount option, so comfort was factored into every design decision.

3.  Can the same hand mount be used by different workers?

To avoid cross-contamination between workers, the hand mount can be cleaned by hand washing or machine washing on a gentle cycle. Or each worker can be assigned a personal mount that is not shared with other workers. And the trigger and mounting plate can be separated from the hand wrap, allowing for replacement of the fabric portion of the hand mount without throwing away the more durable and expensive components.

4. Can the hand mount be worn with gloves underneath?

It sure can!

5. Is the mount comfortable enough to wear all day? Even if it were to get wet?

Definitely! We put this thing through the ringer when designing and testing it and wearers loved it.

6. I would imagine the scanner is more prone to accidental bumps when sitting on top of the hand. How do I avoid an action that could shorten the life of my devices or shrink my return on investment?

Some workers actually prefer an option such as the RS5100 Enterprise Hand Mount because there is less risk of impact and obstruction. But, to help ease your mind, the RS5100 scanner has a stainless steel front bezel to help protect against bumps against warehouse racks, shelves and conveyors. And the scanner is built – and proven in real-world testing – to handle 6 ft./1.82 m drops. We also made it dustproof and waterproof – it’s IP65 sealed – and it has a higher electrostatic discharge (ESD) rating than other comparable products on the market. So, it’s ready for the winter’s static electricity buildup, summer heat, ice-cold coolers, monsoon season, windy (dusty) days, and other environmental elements users might encounter in the typical day at work.

7. How long will the mount last? Will the trigger buttons wear out over time? And is the mount warrantied?

The hardware is warrantied for a year, and the hand mount’s trigger is rated for 2 million scans, which could last a year or more – even if you are scanning thousands of barcodes a day.  The fabric hand wrap won’t last as long as the mounting hardware, but the old hand wrap can be removed and a new one installed on the same long-life mount.

8. What about recharging?

The battery is actually removable, so workers can swap in a fully charged battery at any time. They don’t have to stop and plug it in to recharge during a shift. It’s super simple and only takes a few seconds. My recommendation would be to give them an extended 18+ hour battery if you’re trying to maximize productivity and output across multiple shifts. If used for just one, super long shift, the standard 12+ hour battery should be more than enough.

9. How does the RS5100 scanner connect to the host mobile computer when attached to the new hand mount?

It connects the same way it would if worn as a ring scanner: just tap or scan to pair to initiate a Bluetooth® connection. With Bluetooth Class 1, the RS5100 can connect to a host device up to 300 feet away, such as a vehicle mount computer or laptop. The Bluetooth Class 2 short range power saving connection will sync it with a mobile computer worn on the wrist or hip – or other smaller device – up to 30 feet away. Just don’t forget to take advantage of the Bluetooth Channel Masking tool we now offer. Beyond comfort, one of the other reasons we designed this hand mount was to give some workers a more functional scanner setup for those days they’re on the move and want their fingers free to grab boxes or type in data at mobile workstations. They’re going to be around other electronic devices, and you don’t want anything to interfere with the connection between Bluetooth-paired devices.

10. What happens when a worker leaves or the RS5100 Enterprise Hand Mounts reach end of life? Do I just throw them away?

The fabric hand wrap accessory will need to be discarded when it wears out, but the good news is that you can reuse all the electronic components of the mount, which minimizes the environmental impact and electronic waste disposal costs for your barcode scanning solution.

I’m sure you have more questions, and we can answer all of them. So, feel free to reach out to me, my team or your Zebra representative to get the additional info you need to decide whether this mount may be just what your front-line workers want or need. You can also get a few more details here.

And if you’re just looking for a new wearable scanner for your team but aren’t sure if the RS5100 or another device is best, we can help you with that, too. Remember, you have lots of options now (and even more coming in 2022)!

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Dan Baldwin
Dan Baldwin is the Senior Product Manager for the Wearable category at Zebra Technologies. In this role, he is responsible for new product development and management of the wearable solutions portfolio, which includes wrist mounted mobile computers, ring scanners and rugged headsets