Do more with Collector using barcode scanners

Utility meters, poles, pipes, traffic signs – the fixed assets that you manage inside of the ArcGIS platform are not only mapped but are often tagged with durable, weather resistant barcodes that uniquely identify each asset inside of an asset management system.

Quite often we are asked if Collector for ArcGIS running on a smartphone or tablet can be paired with a barcode scanner so that as you map asset locations you can capture the barcodes placed on them as well…

Though Collector does not directly integrate with APIs from vendors, there are scanners that will just work with Collector out of the box!  A good example is Socket Mobile’s Cordless Hand Scanner Series 8 devices. The Socket Mobile CHS 8Ci scanner pairs with both iOS and Android devices using Bluetooth Smart technology and what makes it work with Collector is the Bluetooth HID profile (“Human Interface Device”).

How to capture barcodes with Collector on iOS devices

1. Pair the scanner with your smartphone or tablet from within Bluetooth settings.

2. Using Collector, tap on the field that you want to populate with the code from your scanner.

3. Scan the barcode and the field will be automatically populated.

It is that simple and works with Android devices as well! The scanner replaces the virtual keyboard of the device when connected when set to HID mode. If set to any other mode it will not work.

If you are looking to integrate Collector with a barcode scanner for your field projects, please ensure that the scanner supports Bluetooth HID mode. Here are a couple of additional scanners we found that support HID mode:

Happy Mapping and Tagging!

Collector team

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  1. amandaopp says:

    I suppose you could probably do the same with QR Codes or Hollagrams. Do you suppose you could use a QR app that would interface with collector?. This really makes collector so much more versatile than it already is. I can’t wait for the updates to iron out a few of the kinks because collector really is the answer to so many of our problems in field data collection.

  2. ian.botts says:

    So you are saying this will work with android and all the fragmentation as long as it’s an HID Bluetooth capable scanner?

    • miao6336 says:

      I didn’t do comprehensive test on all the Android version. But I think if that version of Android OS support Bluetooth HID, it should support it.

  3. oceanrac says:

    What kind of tags can you use? Do they need to be a custom size? Can they be different colors? Do these things depend on the scanner itself? Very interested in getting a few of these for our assets but need more answers!

  4. ariatevari says:

    This is very interesting. Do we know if the process is as streamlined using the new ArcGIS WebApp Builder?

  5. centercity_philadelphia says:

    Will you be able to use this without have ArcGIS Server?

  6. david_lawrence says:

    Why can’t this ne done with the camera on the iPhone instead of an external scanner

    • mathieub says:

      I was wondering this myself, but the same for Android devices, I just cannot see the point in buying another device to plug into a phone via Bluetooth or whatever. What will it take to do the interpreting of bar codes or qrcodes directly from the camera on the smartphone. It sure doesn’t sound like rocket science, Am I missing something here? I can only assume bar code reader firms will just be out of pocket.

    • sealjack says:

      I agree. To have collector is about carrying less on field comparing what used to have (e.g. forms, camera, GPS etc.) and less time for preparing these tools. Even one of our field crews said to me there’re many barcode scanner apps using iphone/ipad camera directly, why collector can’t do it, which I couldn’t answer and he’s right, why not make it simple for collector.

    • comcarto says:

      Exactly. This would expand the market for Collector and bring GIS into new projects that are currently database-only. I don’t see any ESRI news on this for the past year and a half. You would thnk ESRI would be eager to get more into the asset management market. Or are there 3rd party solutions that are better integrated?

    • brianjbaldwin says:

      As noted in a comment below, this can be done with Android devices through a 3rd party ‘scanner/keyboard’ app. But, the hardware/software limitations of Apple prevent users from pushing values through the Apple keyboard, thus, preventing this.

  7. Aaron says:

    Does this replace the internal keyboard once paired? Our workflow would require scanning a barcode, then updating maybe 10 attributes. It would be unreasonable to have to pair the scanner for each feature visited in the field, then unpair it to get the keyboard back for the rest of the collection event.

    • amarinelli says:

      I am curious about this as well. The article says “replaces the virtual keyboard” and unless there is a quick way to switch between the real keyboard and the HID of the device, this is not ideal for scanning and editing other attribute fields.

    • brianjbaldwin says:

      I just tested this with a Socket Mobile unit (same one described in the article). After collecting a bar code record, the keyboard is not active in Collector for the next field, but just a quick click on the power button of the scanner re-activates the keyboard in Collector. I tested and found this pretty quick and easy to use. If you needed to collect another bar code, simply using the ‘trigger’ on the unit reactivates and collects the next item. So, there was no re-syncing or enabling, it worked very smoothly.

  8. abujenine says:

    What if I dowloaded one of the free barecode scanners from app store on the same device that have collector; does this work or not??

    • brianjbaldwin says:

      What does work and is noted in GeoNet, is the ability to use a 3rd party barcode scanner/keyboard app. Basically, the app replaces the default keyboard in an Android unit and has a ‘Scan’ button on the top of the keyboard which will populate the bar code values into the selected Collector field. If you search the Google Play Store for “Bar Code Scanner Keyboard”, the app by ‘Tec-It’ has a demo and worked very well for 1D barcodes. I did not test the full version that is sold for $3.99 and says that it can scan both 1D and 2D (QR) bar codes.