Barcode Glossary O


Barcode-Glossary O

  • Optical Character Reader

  • Scanning device for standardized fonts. Optical character readers can operate according to two different principles:

    • Optical readers optically scan standardized fonts (e.g. OCR-A OCR-B).
    • Magnetic font readers scan magnetized fonts (magnetic writing) or coding applied next to the fonts.
      The fonts read by the optical character reader, partly also alphabetic characters, are converted into a code suitable for the input into a data processing machine.

    A distinction is made between three groups of optical character readers:

    • Document readers, in which case single documents printed on with standardized fonts are fed in and scanned. Document readers can also be equipped with facilities to sort these single documents (document sorter).
    • Hand-held readers that are moved across a row with standardized fonts by hand.
    • Strip Readers that read paper strips printed on with standardized fonts (addition slips). Such strips can for example be printed out by addition machines, booking machines or cash registers that are equipped with the relevant font types. When an optical character reader is able to read several different fonts, it is called a multi font reader.
  • Oscillating Mirror Scanner

  • A one-beam scanner with an additional mirror oscillating in one level at right angles to the scanner beam and thereby (for example) swinging vertically up and down in a bow across a horizontal field of scanning heights/scanning widths.

  • Overhead

  • That part of a barcode symbol that is required in addition to the encoded data in order to give the symbol a valid structure. It consists of auxiliary characters and symbol check characters.


  • Organization for Data Exchange by Tele Transmission in Europe (ODETTE). ODETTE is a co-operation between all European car manufacturers and their external suppliers and has, among others, determined the ODETTE Transport Label Standard on the basis of Code 39. This standard is also used in other fields of industry.

  • Open Application Environment (System)

  • An application that can be used by independent parties/participants without necessitating bilateral agreements.
    Compare: "Closed Application Environment".

  • Omnidirectional

  • Into all directions. Used to identify symbols that can be read in any direction by the appropriate scanners, or to identify scanners able to read symbols independent from the direction.

  • Omnidirectional Scanner

  • Specifies a scanner, e.g. a flat bed scanner, which is able to read symbols in any direction parallel or near-parallel to the aperture of the scanner.

  • Opacity

  • The opacity of a substance. Material-opacity concerns the prevention of the show-through of the backside or any underlying material. The color-opacity is the feature of a color print, designed to prevent the reflectance of the substrate below.

  • Optical Document Reader

  • A device that identifies records on data carriers with optical sampling process, also termed optical sampler. Also punched data carriers that were originally meant only for the electrical sampling (contact brushes shoot through the hole in the data carrier contact) are nowadays sampled optically (a light beam hits a photodiode through the hole). This type of sampling has the advantage of a higher speed and does not mechanically involve the data carrier during the sampling. Apart from the sampling procedure which utilizes the transparency of a data carrier, there is also the reflex procedure where the light/dark difference is made use of. This process is used for the identification of markings, barcodes (bar code) and fonts. The codes or standardized fonts suitable for optical scanning can be applied with simple print colors. As the optical identification of fonts is depending on the contrast these characters have against their background, any soiling of the type face can be rather interfering. On the other hand, the identification capacity of the optical reader is not limited to certain spectral areas, so that for example most of the stamp, ball point and fountain pen inks do not impair the readability of the characters. The most important optical font is the OCR-font that was worked out by the ISO and was standardized by the German Standards Committee with DIN 66008 and DIN 6622. A special form of optical reading is the Handblockschriftleser that can identify hand-written block lettering. Optical scanners can not only be constructed as input devices for data processing machines but also as document sorters. The tasks of data input and document sorting can also be combined.

  • Optical Density

  • Measuring the ratio between the penetrated or the reflected light and the emitted light, expressed as the logarithm of the ratio
    optical density = Log10 (T/I),
    between T = penetrated or reflected light and
    I = emitted light.

  • Optical Throw

  • The distance of the scanning optics and the beginning of the depth of field of a symbol with given characteristics.
    Compare: "Depth of Field" "Distance" "Reading Distance".

  • Orientation

  • The orientation is the positioning of a barcode symbol in a specific direction or level. Barcode symbols can be positioned in such a way that they can be scanned either horizontally (vertical bars, “Picket Fence Orientation”) or vertically (horizontal bars, “Ladder Orientation”).
    See "Ladder Orientation, Picket Fence Orientation".

  • Output Device

  • The last link in a chain of computer-driven machines utilized for creating the barcode symbols (e.g. laser printers, inkjet printers, etc.).