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Retail stores are faced with the long-standing challenge of customers waiting in queues to make a purchase. With a limited number of cashiers available to scan the barcodes on every product purchased, retail store owners often wish for self-checkout barcode scanners to reduce the waiting time and automate the operational process. To completely harness the potential of the barcode, Socket Mobile needs to be accessible through widespread technology—smart mobile devices.
Socket Mobile has been bolstering scanning solutions for over 25 years with data capture products and barcode scanners used in conjunction with the application. The company offers developers, companies, stores owners, healthcare providers, and anybody who carries inventory, the ability to store and share information within barcodes through applications via the cloud for real-time auditing. The software development kit includes a distinctive toolset to simplify the review process. Socket Mobile’s barcode scanners and RFID readers, with their robust SDK, allow users to quickly access and check their inventory of products in real-time, for better customer service and quicker responses.
In an interview with CIO Applications, Kevin Mills, President and CEO of Socket Mobile, shares his insights into the company, the value proposition and the industry-grade field service barcode technology solutions that the company brings to the table.
Could you provide us with the history of Socket Mobile, on how it was established and how it grew over the years?
Since its inception in 1992, Socket Mobile—a pioneer in the development of Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) plug-in cards—has drastically transformed the mobile computing world. Having started with a primary focus on establishing anytime-anywhere connectivity for notebooks, the firm assisted Microsoft with a wireless messaging initiative for hand-held devices, thus introducing the idea of utilizing compact flash cards as an input-output device. Socket Mobile strived towards implementing additional functionalities for connectivity and data collection in the hand-held devices or Personal Digital Assistants (PDA). However, with the entrance of iPhones in the market in 2007, PDAs soon became outdated and the firm adapted to this digital change by leveraging Bluetooth products to connect with iPhones.
We develop data capture products to be used in conjunction with the application, enabling the overall scanning solution for our customers
What are the challenges in the field service and barcode technology landscape and how does Socket Mobile overcome them?
In today’s world, people buy mobile applications solely for performing tasks and capturing data. The traditional use of pen and paper-based systems to record the details of an inspection has been eradicated, thanks to the advancements in technology, the inspection points now have barcodes for an inspector to scan with applications on an iPhone, Android or Windows device. However, there is a limit to how much data an application can handle. This is what Socket Mobile intends to streamline. We develop data capture products to be used in conjunction with the application, enabling the overall scanning solution for our customers. Also, we empower application developers to build an application for addressing the primary needs of the inspectors with enhancement of the data capture products as our secondary function.
What are the key products or services you offer to your clients?
Socket Mobile proffers camera-based and laser-based scanners that can scan 40-50 inches of a barcode. Socket Mobile’s data capture products allow inspectors to store and share barcode information concerning maintenance and inspection with the management via the cloud for real-time auditing. The firm also provides inspectors with a spectrum of 2-D barcode readers for scanning and reading electronic money, QR codes and barcodes off a screen, apt for the retail environment. Taking things beyond regular scanning, inspectors can read and write back onto radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags from any device with Socket Mobile’s SDK.
Could you share a client success story to highlight the benefits your products brought to your clients?
Recently, Socket Mobile assisted an application developer in enhancing a fire and safety application called fireNspec, and scan various inspection points behind high walls and obstacles with laser-based scanners. On leveraging the Socket Mobile’s SDK, an application developer can work with an MFi certified peripheral device and an MFi chip for support with qualified components. In doing so, Socket Mobile successfully helped the application developer reduce the time and energy required to scan the inspection points and make the inspection process more efficient.
With all the advancements in technology, how does Socket Mobile intend to stay on top of the technology curve?
We assist people who have application opportunities to meet the promises they make to their customers by enabling robust data collection. Over 84 percent of our customers are buying their first ever barcode scanners from Socket Mobile. With its current focus on data capture and RFID in its arsenal, Socket Mobile strives to explore new opportunities with regard to updating tags on e-paper and loyalty and payment related activities. We have embraced the token-driven types of applications in the payment related activities and are looking forward to mainstream token exchange in the market, enabling customers to meet their goals with professional, robust data collection function.
What does the future hold for the company?
Socket Mobile is currently working with software providers to leverage its 2-D barcode scanners and uphold the e-payment initiative in Japan. We are not taking business away from traditional barcode scanning companies. Instead, we provide inspectors and under-served markets with the capital and the training needed to go digital.