This past week, I received a reply in response to an email that we sent out about our new 4910LR driver’s license barcode reader. It contained some good questions, so I’ve decided to share them and expand on my replies over my next several posts.
“Your information says that the 4910LR captures barcodes, images, and signatures.” 
The 4910LR captures the data that’s encoded in the PDF417 barcode on the driver’s license.  That stacked linear barcode contains all of the information that’s printed on the license and if your application supports barcode capture, it can take every bit of information from the license that’s required for the report being generated and populate the appropriate fields. This is done instantly and eliminates any possibility of data entry error.  Barcode capture is the primary function of this device and its form factor is specifically designed for use in patrol vehicles.
L-Tron 4910 License Reader
What is the intended use of images or signatures?
Image capture can be used for a number of things, including capturing images of signatures.  The core of all 2D Barcode Scanners is a CCD image sensor.  CCD sensors are also the core of digital cameras.  This is why your Smartphone is able to read barcodes.  It’s also why the 4910 is able to capture images.  If you’ve ever used a Smartphone app to scan a barcode, you know that it’s not particularly good at it.  You also won’t be taking any family portraits with the 4910. The images are black & white and will not compare with even your basic point and shoot camera or flatbed document scanner but for many law enforcement applications, they’re sufficient and eliminate the need for another device in an already crowded environment.
In Iowa, citations are required to be accompanied by the driver’s signature.  When officers print a citation, their software (TraCS) generates a page for the driver’s signature, along with a unique barcode tied to the citation.  The driver signs the paper and the officer scans the unique barcode.  The intelligent signature capture feature records the barcode number and zooms in on the signature box.  Then it captures, crops and stores the driver’s signature in the citation report.  The unique barcode ensures that the signature hasn’t been recycled from a previous incident.  This satisfies the state law while avoiding having to submit a signature on paper, which would negate a key benefit of electronic reporting.  They also capture the officer’s signature from paper to attach to the report, certifying the citation.
At least one department that I know of is using the image capture capability to, under certain circumstances, capture a fingerprint (again, from paper) and attach it to its report.  The 4910 can also be used to capture an officer’s diagram of an accident scene or to record an image of a counterfeit or falsely presented driver’s license.  Some officers capture an image of the driver’s license in frame with the radar or laser speed gun result for speeding citations.  Image capture can also be used to capture an unofficial mug shot in instances where the citation recipient is being released on a minor offense with notice to appear in court and no ID has been presented.
Basically, the 4910LR image capture is a secondary feature, but one with a lot of value.  It offers megapixel quality black and white digital photo capability from a device that’s already connected to your patrol vehicle computer on a permanent basis, to enhance officer reports generated in the field.
Next time:  4910LR Software Compatibility