Point of Sale Glossary

The specialized jargon in Point of Sale can be daunting. Make use of the plain english definitions below to make your research easier.

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1, 2 & 3 Track MSR
There are up to three tracks on magnetic cards used for financial transactions. Point-of-sale card readers almost always read track 1, or track 2, and sometimes both, in case one track is unreadable. Track 3 is rarely used.

1D Imager
Takes a single line picture of a barcode and attempts to decode the information for the computer or other device. Can only decode 1D barcodes such as Code 39, Code 93, Code 128 and Codabar. See also 'Linear Imager' scan method for additional information.

1D Laser Scanner
Scanner can only read 1D barcodes, such as Code 39, Code 93, Code 128 and Codabar. See also 'Single-Line Laser' method.

2D Area Imager
Scanner technology that takes a picture of the barcode, translates the information and sends the data to the computer. See also '2D Imager' scan method.

2D Imager
2D Imagers can read both 1-dimensional and 2-dimensional barcodes using an internal camera. The scanner takes a picture of the barcode and translates the image internally to send to the computer or other device.

The third generation of GSM technology. 3.5G is faster than standard GSM. See 'GSM' radio options for more information and wireless carriers.

360� 5 Sided Laser Scanner
Allows for minimal reorientation of products by having scanners in both the weight-plate base as well as a side-based multi-scanner to cover as much surface area of a product as possible.

3M Capacitive
This is a proprietary touch screen type. 3M's unique features include: 20-finger multi-touch input, and a less than 6ms response time for all 20-fingers. Precise, accurate touch for detailed applications. Also see 'Capacitive Touchscreen' type.

The fourth generation of GSM technology. 4G provides faster speeds than either GSM or 3.5G. See 'GSM' radio options for more information and wireless carriers.

4-Wire Resistive Touch Monitor
4-Wire resistive is less accurate and sensitive than a 5-Wire touchscreen. See 'Resistive Touchscreen' type for additional information.

5-Wire Resistive Touch Monitor
Resistive touchscreen technology using 5 wires to calculate cursor position. More accurate than 4-wire. See 'Resistive Touchscreen' type for additional information.

802.11 a/b/g/n
802.11 are Wi-Fi network interfaces that allow users to connect their peripheral devices wirelessly within their own network, without using ethernet cables.

9-Pin refers to the number of pins on the print head of a dot matrix or serial impact printer. Higher quality prints use a 24-pin print head.

AccuTouch Resistive (Zero Bezel Resistive)
AccuTouch 5-wire resistive touchscreens use a glass panel with a uniform resistive coating. When the screen is touched, the conductive coating makes electrical contact with the coating on the glass and the touch location is determined.

Acoustic Pulse Recognition
A touch at any position on the glass generates a unique sound. Four points located at the edges of the touchscreen pick up the sound of the touch. The sound is digitized by the controller and compared to a list of prerecorded sounds for every position on the glass. The cursor position is instantly updated to the touch location.

Area Imager
An area imager takes a picture of an entire barcode rather than just a single line through the barcode, allowing the barcode to be read at any angle. The imager then decodes the information and transmits to a computer or other device.

Auto Sense
When a scanner has the auto sense capability, while the scanner is placed in it's stand, the reader will pick up barcodes as you pass them through the scanner's field of view.

Bi-Directional Laser
Bi-directional scanners were created to be able to read barcodes that were upside-down, however it is extremely rare today to find a scanner that is not bi-directional. See 'Single-Line Laser' method.

Bill Weights
Metal or plastic pieces, typically connected to springs, that hold paper bills down inside the cash drawer.

Black Mark
Some labels come preset with a small black dot or mark that the printer reads and recognizes as the end of the current label, and then advances the label roll to the next label.

Uses short-wavelength radio transmissions creating a high level security personal area network (PAN). Bluetooth provides a secure way to connect and exchange information between devices that are not wired together and are at close range.

Bluetooth Serial Port
Emulates a serial cable to provide a simple substitute for existing RS-232 devices.

Uses the change in capacitance, or electrical resistance, to set cursor position. Easy to use and very precise, however you must use human contact. Styluses and pens will not register as contact.

An infrared technology that is useful with harsh applications. It's the only technology that does not rely on an overlay or substrate to register a touch, so it's impossible to physically "wear out" the touchscreen.

CCD Barcode Scanner
A 'Charge-coupled Device' uses an array of hundreds of tiny light sensors lined up in a row in the head of the reader. Each sensor measures the intensity of the light immediately in front of it. The scanner measures the light reflected to decode barcodes.

CCD Solid State Scanner
CCD scanners are solid-state, meaning they have no moving parts, so they are inherently more reliable than laser scanners. See also 'CCD Barcode Scanner' method.

Contact Pen Scanner
Consists of a light source and photodiode that are placed next to each other in the tip of the pen. The photodiode measures the intensity of the light reflected back from the barcode as the tip crosses each bar and space.

Contact Wand Scanner
Consist of a light source and photodiode that are placed next to each other in the tip of the wand. The photodiode measures the intensity of the light reflected back from the barcode as the tip crosses each bar and space.

Comtec Printer Control Language is another print language that supports both Zebra and Comtec model printers. As with other emulations, it provides the ability to operate any printer that supports CPCL software.

DB9 Serial
This is a serial interface with a 9-pin connection. They are named for their characteristic D-shaped metal connection. See also 'RS-232' Interface.

Depth of Field for Scanning
Refers to the maximum and minimum distance away from an object (typically a barcode) that a scanner can read and recognize the information and trasmit that information to the computer or other device.

A proprietary interface that's common in grocery stores, DEX allows delivery companies to plug into the grocery store POS and update inventory counts to match what was delivered.

Die-cutting uses a tooled-metal die to make precision cuts on label rolls to produce standard and custom labels for multiple industries.

Direct Sunlight
Outdoor lighting. Standard lux rating is between 32,000-130,000 lux.

Direct Thermal
An image is produced by selectively heating coated thermochromic paper (thermal paper). When the paper passes over the thermal print head, the coating turns black in the areas where it is heated, producing an image.

Direct Thermal (Standard, Premium, Heavy Duty, Long-Life, Image Protect, Hi-Temp, All-Weather)
Labels have a layer of heat-sensitive dye that reacts when heat is applied, causing parts of the label to darken into the content of the receipt or label.

Direct Thermal Tags & Receipts
Tags and receipts are non-adhesive labels that are produced on label printers. They typically use gap sensor technology to indicate the spacing between one tag and the next.

Dots per inch (dpi) is a measurement of the resolution of a printer based on how many dots fit into a linear inch. A higher dpi value can print in greater detail.

Datamax Programming Language is a printer control language that allows labels to be printed from different models of printers without needing to have multiple different drivers for each printer model.

Drivers License Data Parsing
A programmable addition for specialized barcode scanners that will parse driver's license content and send the data your software needs in the order it requires.

Wireless radio technology that allows data to be sent and received along with standard radio signals. T-Mobile uses EDGE technology.

Allows a pole display to be compatible with multiple different POS software types.

Eltron Programming Language is used to produce printed paper labels for various Eltron (now Zebra) model printers. Newer printers use ZPL instead.

Connects devices through a local area network (LAN). The ability to connect over long distances and through outlets, as well as the low cost of ethernet cable has begun to phase out other interfaces.

Wireless radio technology that allows data to be sent and received, along with standard radio signals. Sprint and Verizon use EV-DO technology.

Labels that are folded up inside the printer rather than on a roll.

Flash Memory
Memory that can be erased and reprogrammed continuously. Found commonly in PCs, PDAs, digital audio players, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc.

Flash ROM
(Same as flash memory)

Office and warehouse lighting using fancier fluorescent tubes instead of regular lightbulbs. Standard lux rating is between 80-500 lux.

Gap Sensor
Typically found on label paper or tags, printers determine the end of one printed item based on when it hits the gap and prints the next item.

Wireless radio technology that allows data to be sent and received, along with standard radio signals. AT&T and T-Mobile use GPRS technology.

Found on mobile computers that also double as cell phones and requires activation of a SIM card to access the wireless radio features. Used by AT&T and T-Mobile.

Healthcare Housing
Plastic housing around the scanner is specifically designed to be more resistant to hospital/healthcare grade disinfectants, and not deteriorate as a standard plastic would.

Found on mobile computers that also double as cell phones and requires activation of a SIM card to access the wireless radio features. AT&T uses HSDPA technology.

Wireless radio technology that allows data to be sent and received along with standard radio signals. Use of the radio options requires activation of a SIM card and wireless plan. AT&T and T-Mobile use this technology.

Wireless radio technology that allows data to be sent and received, along with standard radio signals when a SIM card and wireless plan are activated. AT&T and T-Mobile use this technology.

Hybrid Presentation Imager
Hybrid scanners are designed to allow the user the option between hands-free and handheld scanning with quick, fluid motion. As a hybrid, the user can either present the product to the scanner, or move the scanner to the product.

One of several first-gen attempts to standardize scanner cabling with dual interfaces on a single cable. This is a legacy interface. See also 'IBM 46XX/9X' interface.

A first-gen attempt to standardize scanner cabling by having a single cable that could fit between a scanner and a multitude of interface ports. This is a legacy interface connection.

Impact Receipt Printer
Impact printers rely on a forcible impact to transfer ink to the receipt paper. An impact printer uses a print head that either hits the surface of the ink ribbon, pressing the ink ribbon against the paper, or hits the back of the paper, pressing the paper against the ink ribbon.

Home lighting or regular lightbulbs. Standard lux rating is between 30-79 lux.

An infrared touchscreen uses an array of LED and photodetector pairs around the edges of the screen to detect a disruption in the pattern of LED beams. The LED beams cross vertically and horizontally. A benefit of infrared is that it can detect input including a finger, gloved finger, stylus or pen.

IntelliTouch (Multi-Touch Surface Acoustic Wave)
This touchscreen type sends a constant electrical signal across the touchscreen. When your finger or another object interrupts that signal, it interprets the location of the interruption and moves the cursor to that spot. Unlike capacitive, IntelliTouch allows for detection of multiple points of interruption simultaneously.

IP Rating
Ingress Protection Rating classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects, dust, accidental contact and liquid. For scanners, the minimum IP rating is 20, the highest, 68.

Intermec Programming Language is a print language that allows non-intermec printers to be compatible with Intermec software.

iTouch (Zero Bezel Surface Acoustic Wave)
All of the touch detection hardware is located on the backside of the touchscreen. iTouch screens are a completely flat surface with zero-bezel after integration of the touchscreen into a monitor, touchcomputer, or other device. iTouch is the step up from IntelliTouch technology.

LCD Touch Screen (Panel)
Liquid Crystal Display is a flat panel display, electronic visual display, or video display that uses the properties of liquid crystals to display images.

Line Thermal Dot Printing
Heating elements are arranged as a combination of minute, closely spaced dots that transfer heat to the label or receipt paper. See 'Thermal Line' and 'Thermal Receipt Printer' print method.

Linear Imager
Takes a picture of a single line through a barcode and then decodes the information to input into the computer or other device. As with other imagers, there are no moving parts in a linear imager, making it less likely to require repairs.

Linerless media has no waxy backing to peel the labels away, rather it is just a roll of adhesive paper.

Long Range CCD Scanner
The scanner is calibrated to read barcodes from farther away than standard retail scanners. See 'CCD Barcode Scanner' method.

Wireless radio technology that allows data to be sent and received, along with standard radio signals once the user activates a SIM card and a wireless plan. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon use this technology.

MCBF stands for Mean Cycles Before Failure. A testing procedure used to determine the longevity of various POS peripherals.

MiniSD Slot
MiniSD is a much smaller sized slot for a MiniSD card to fit rather than a standard SD card. See 'SD Slot' memory options.

MTBF stands for Mean Time Before Failure. MTBF is the amount of time a product is estimated to operate before significant hardware failure.

Multi-Line Rastering Scan Pattern
Uses a series of mirrors to multiply the number of barcode lines scanned, making it easier to scan barcodes that aren't perfectly aligned in the scan zone.

Allows a cash drawer to be controlled via serial port with either a single drawer or daisy chained drawers, where all of the drawers can be controlled from a single location.

MZIO Expansion Slot
Aceeca's proprietary interface/expansion port. Based on similar expansion ports in legacy laptops, this port is meant to assist hardware developers.

Keypad layout that uses a numeric keypad and function keys. Similar in style to older cellular phones.

Omni-directional 2D Imager
Takes a picture of the barcode and then translates the barcode and sends the information to the computer or other device. 2D imagers can read both 1D and 2D barcodes.

Omni-directional 5-Sided Laser Scanner
Like other omni-directional scanners, multiple laser lines are emitted in several directions to increase the percentage chance that a sucessful scan is achieved. This type of scanner is typically found in grocery stores. See also '360� 5 Sided Laser Scanner' method.

Omni-directional Area Imager
2D barcode scanning technology that allows for barcode reads at virtually any orientation. Another term for omni-directional 2D imager.

Omni-directional Imager
Imagers are similar to a camera. The array imager captures a picture of the entire barcode, reorients the barcode, decodes the information and sends it to the computer or other device. Unlike a traditional laser scanner, an imager has no moving parts.

Omni-directional Presentation Imager
2D scanning technology that will read barcodes at a multitude of orientations. As a presentation imager, the barcode needs to be brought to the scanner, rather than bringing the scanner to the barcode.

Omni-directional Presentation Scanner
Presentation scanners take a picture to ensure that a barcode can be read in any orientation, its processor will re-orient the picture and decode the barcode. The scanner is attached to a stand or immobile in some way, so the barcode must be brought to the scanner.

Omni-directional SurroundScan 3D Scanner
Allows the user to scan barcodes from up to six sides, increasing efficiency at checkout and minimizing the need to re-orient products. Typically a SurroundScan scanner is aggressive enough to scan products without having to stop them on the unit.

Optical Multi-Touch
Uses multiple optical sensors to detect the touch point, which registers the touch just before physical contact with the screen. Users can apply zero or light touch to the screen to initiate a response, and any input device: finger, gloved finger, pen, or stylus will work.

Palm Keypad
Keypad layout that features navigation buttons plus function buttons. Popular on legacy Palm OS devices.

Parallel port interfaces have prongs, rather than pins like a serial interface. Parallel interfaces have the ability to both send and receive information.

Power over Ethernet (PoE)
Also called PoE, power over ethernet provides electricity over one line, allowing devices to operate even when there is no outlet nearby.

Powered USB
Addition to the USB standard that allows for higher-power devices to obtain power through a USB host instead of an independent power supply. Mostly used with point-of-sale equipment, such as receipt printers and barcode readers.

Commonly found on cash drawers, printer-driven interfaces are initiated by signals sent by the receipt printer. When the signal is received, the solenoid in the cash drawer is triggered and the drawer opens.

Projected Capacitive Touch
PCT technology is a variant of capacitive touch technology. All PCT screens are made up of rows and columns of conductive material, layered on sheets of glass. Unlike traditional capacitive touch technology, it is possible for a PCT system to sense a stylus or gloved fingers.

PS/2 (Keyboard Wedge)
The PS/2 is a 6-pin connector typically used to connect a mouse and keyboard in older computer systems. A PS/2 scanner 'wedges' itself between the keyboard and the PC, allowing the scanner to transmit information while still allowing the user to type on the keyboard.

Keypad layout that mirrors a full-size keyboard. QWERTY refers to the upper left letters on the keyboard.

Random Access Memory is a form of computer data storage. RAM allows stored data to be accessed quickly instead of having to be pulled off of a Hard-Disk Drive or other permanent data storage device.

Rasterized Omni-directional Laser Scanner
Rather than multiple rastering lines that scan horizontally, the omni-directional scanner has rasterized lines running in multiple directions to increase the percentage of successful scans. See 'Multi-Line Rastering Scan' method for additional information.

Receipt paper is a generic printable paper for use with receipt printers that has no adhesive surface and features either auto-cut or tear away.

Resistive Touchscreen
Resistive touchscreens are touch-sensitive computer displays composed of two flexible sheets coated with a resistive material and separated by an air gap or microdots. When contact is made to the surface of the touchscreen (finger, stylus, pen, etc.), the two sheets are pressed together to determine where the user pressed on the screen.

Label roll or receipt paper that is stored on a roll and is either placed or locked into the printer peripheral.

Also known as Serial Interface, RS-232 uses a standard 25-pin design that slots in and connects a peripheral device to a PC or other database device.

Stronger plastics and more rubber is added to the outside of the scanner to provide greater durability in rougher environments such as warehouses or outdoor locations.

Scan Rate
Normally rates the maximum number of times a scanner searches for a barcode and scans it each second. A higher scan rate relates to quicker barcode reads.

Scanner Emulation
The same configuration as wand emulation, but with a scanner rather than a wand. See 'Wand Emulation' method for more information.

SD Slot
Secure Digital is a very stable memory card used in portable devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, GPS navigation devices, mobile computers and tablets. SD cards can be slotted into one device to save data and then removed and placed in another device to store that data.

Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory is part of the computer's system bus. A type of RAM that allows the processor to work on accessing several commands at one time by pulling data from different storage areas.

SecureTouch (Surface Wave)
SecureTouch is manufactured with extra-tough glass that resists vandalism. These touchscreens incorporate solid-glass and coating-free construction. See also 'Surface Capacitive' touchscreen type for more information.

Serial Impact Dot Matrix
Serial impact is a type of printing which uses a print head that runs back and forth or up and down on the page and prints by striking an ink ribbon against the paper.

Single-Line Laser
Works the same as wand style readers except that they use a laser as the light source and typically employ either a reciprocating mirror or a rotating prism to scan the laser back and forth across the bar code.

A cylindrical coil of wire acting as a magnet when carrying electric current. When a transaction that involves cash is completed, the register sends an electrical signal to the solenoid, the catch is released and the drawer opens.

Surface Capacitive
One side of the insulator is coated with a conductive layer. Voltage is applied, resulting in an electrostatic field. When a conductor touches the surface, a capacitor is formed. The sensor's ?brain? determines the location of touch from the change in capacitance.

Non-paper labels that are used in direct thermal and thermal transfer label printing. Synthetic labels are much more resistant to heat/cold and outdoor storage where the label won't blacken or turn to mush.

Thermal Line
Thermal line is a type of printer that uses either direct thermal or thermal transfer paper. See also 'Direct Thermal' or 'Thermal Transfer' print method.

Thermal Receipt Printer
This model of printer uses direct thermal paper. Receipt printers do not use theral transfer. See also 'Direct Thermal' print method.

Thermal Transfer
Thermal transfer is performed by melting a coating of ribbon onto the label which the print is applied. This method uses a heat-sensitive ribbon rather than heat-sensitive paper. Thermal transfer is known to create an incredibly durable printed area that can withstand extreme temperatures and contact with chemicals.

Wireless radio technology that allows data to be sent and received, along with standard radio signals. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon use UMTS technology.

A Universal Power Supply or UPS, protects a point-of-sale system by acting as an intermediary between the power coming through an outlet and the point-of-sale system.

The Universal Serial Bus was designed to standardize the connection and provide fast data exchange between the computer and peripherals such as keyboard, mouse, printer, and scanner.

UV Coated
Ultra-violet coating that is applied to the printer stock for protection against the effects of ultra-violet light, such as fading.

Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD)
VFD stands for Vacuum Fluorescent Display, a display device used commonly on electronics equipment such as grocery store check-out counters. The display is similar to car steroes or alarm clocks.

VT Emulation
Known as Virtual Terminal Emulation, this keypad layout offers additional function keys for use within the specific emulated terminals.

W/CDMA (2000)
Verizon and Sprint's wireless radio network. Available on mobile computers that also double as cell phones. Requires activation of a SIM card and wireless plan to access the wireless radio features.

Wand is a legacy interface system. Most wand interfaces now connect via USB interface. The original wand interface was built to work with a stationary wand scanner.

Wand Emulation
The products are connected and configured to look like the interface between a wand and PC or other device. This interface only transfers either an analog or digital replication of the video signal generated by sweeping the wand over a barcode.

Wand Multi-Interface
The wand multi-interface has several different connection ports so you only needed one multi-interface to connect to whichever interface is needed. This interface is now a legacy system.

Wireless LAN
Any network that uses 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless radios to transmit data. See also '802.11 a/b/g/n' interface.

Wireless Linear Imager
The same as a 'Linear Imager,' but is either equipped with a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi interface. This allows the user more freedom with scan angles, as well as the ability to scan heavy boxes and pallets without moving them.

Extensible Markup Language provides a generic programming language that enables peripheral devices that have XML emulation to be able to read existing software.

Zebra Programming Language is the same as DPL and offers the user the ability to run any printer that supports ZPL through the same software.