Strand 3: IT Systems

3.1 Hardware

OMR, OCR,MICR, RFID (Radio frequency Identification), Radio tag, Bar Code, Bar Code scanners, magnetic strip readers.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is used when handwritten text, images, typed text in books or on a piece of paper is scanned and transferred to an electronic form. A computer does not understand the symbols on the page so it can be edited directly or a search can not be preformed.OCR software can regonise symbols on these pieces of paper and allows the user to edit them directly from the computer. It can be used by banks to verify users signatures.

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OMR (Optical Mark Reader) is a machine that shines a beam of light onto a piece of paper the light then reflects back off the piece of paper, the machine then identifies what areas of the paper have been mark because these areas reflect the light differently. There are also OMR machines that use a special type of paper called 'transoptic' paper which measures the amount of light that passes through it, the machine then determines where the marks are because light does not pass through those areas. The most common use for OMR's is the marking of multiple choice question papers.

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MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) is mainly used in the banking indusrty to help with the processing of cheques. The technology allows computers to read information (such as account numbers) off of printed documents. However unlike barcodes the codes can be read by humans which can be a major disadvantage. A major advantage of magnetic ink if even if the paper
is a bit wrinkled it can still be read by MICR machines.

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RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) or Radio tags contain two parts, the first part of the RFID is an intergrated circuit that stores and processes information, it also modulates and demodulates radio frequencies.The second part is an antenna for recieving and transmitting the signal. RFIDs have many purposes but are typically used in products to track them while shipping and are put in animals to track them. There are three different types of RFIDs; active RFID tags which contain a battery and can transmit signals by themselves, passive RFID tags which have no battery and require an external source to start signal transmission and the final type of RFID tags are battery assisted passive which require an external power source to wake up but are capable of providing a bigger "read range". It has many different uses from tracking goods as they are shipped to tracking crimimals who are not allowed further than a certain distance from certain points.

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Barcodes are a series of data that was originally represented by a series of parallel lines, however they can now come in patterns of squares, dots, hexagons and many other shapes. The data can be read by barcode scanners and they have thousands of uses, for example the most common use is in shops were the bar code is scanned and it then tells the person behind the teller the price and what the item is. There are two main types of barcodes; linear and matrix. Each of these types has hundreds of examples and the only way they are different is the way they look.

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Barcode Scanner are the machines required to read and decipher barcodes. They use light to read the patterns in bar codes, once the item has been read a message is send to a database to determine what the item is and it's price, etc. Barcode scanners are normally found at point-of-sale terminals. They can be hand held or in a fixed position.

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Magnetic Strip Readers are the machine that are used to read the magnetic tape on devices like credit cards. A card containing a magnetic strip is physicaly swiped through a reading head. Which then reads and then verifies the information on the card makes it possible to credit the account of the vendor while also applying the charge to the card holder’s account. The cards normally have very basic details on them such as name, address, expiry date and pin number.
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