Carding at the Next Level

Motorola's Symbol digital imager scanner automatically extracts driver's license data.

Motorola is rolling out the Symbol DS6708-DL digital imager scanner, a 1.3-megapixel, omindirectional 1-D and 2-D imager designed to read and parse PDF-417 bar codes found on the back of U.S. driver's licenses.

"The parsing engine reads the driver's license, extracts the information and parses it out, where it can be used in various ways to solve specific problems for retailers," said Mike Poldino, vice president of advanced data capture marketing for Motorola. He said the parsing engine is available in on-board and server-based versions.

As an example of the problems the imager, which was announced June 25, could help solve, Poldino said retailers who sell age-restricted goods like alcohol and tobacco could use it to improve age verification efforts.

"It's difficult to duplicate the encoded information in the PDF-417 bar code on the back of a license," he said.

Although each state encodes information differently, Poldino said the imager will extract any information a retailer wants automatically without being reformatted.

The embedded parsing engine is targeted at smaller retailers, he said.

"It's a simpler solution to implement. It formats information prior to transmission with no need to worry about programming language at the host and no extra software to be written," he said.

In contrast, Poldino said the server-based parsing engine provides raw data to an in-store application, which is then connected to another application on the retailer's back end. The retailer internally hosts its own server and in-store application, which is usually an in-store processor or other solution that connects to the POS (point-of-sale).

In addition to easing age verification, Poldino said the DS6708-DL can also help with activities such as signing up customers for branded credit cards at checkout.

"It benefits everybody," he said. "The sign-up process takes a lot of time and is error-prone. You can use the solution to read information on the customer's license and prepopulate the credit card application. The line moves faster, you get more sales, the customer uplifts their basket size because they don't track credit purchases as closely as they do cash purchases, and the retailer usually gets an incentive from the credit card company for signing people up."

In addition, he said the imager can help retailers more closely monitor the returns process by attaching PDF-417 data to customer returns, making it easier to discover serial returners and take corrective action. He said it can also be used to prepopulate any other type of form a retailer needs to fill out with customer or employee information.

Poldino cited one other advantage of the solution. "It also works as an everyday handheld bar-code scanner," he said.

Kevin Permenter, an analyst with technology research company Venture Development, said imaging growth is supported by several factors.

"Imaging growth, in particular 2-D, continues to be driven by performance improvements and alignment with end-user demand to capture more information throughout the value chain," Permenter said.

He added that capacity to support applications such as signature and image capture is also a key driver of imaging technology.

Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out's Retail Site.