BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to an apparatus for reading out optically
detected characters reproduced on sheets or parts thereof.
As is known there are frequently used sheets and/or documents, or
printed articles, thereon there are reproduced codes which can be detected by
means of optically detecting devices and which codes are usually called "bar codes".
These codes are frequently reproduced on documents or printed sheets
thereon, in addition to the mentioned bar codes, there are also provided wordings
or the like which are constituted by characters which can not be read-out by optical
In order to read-out or detect the bar codes, as well as to properly
decode them, there are at present used read-out devices made in the form of an
optical pen, which must be scanned along the region supporting the bar codes,
transversely of the bars constituting the coded inscription.
In order to detect the bar codes there are also used the so-called
scanners, having a width which is substantially equal or slightly greater than
the width of the bar code printed on the sheet to be read-out.
These prior devices for reading out bar codes, however, have the
drawback that they are adapted to read-out bar codes having a very reduced width
Moreover, the mentioned prior bar code read-out devices are not adapted
to read-out complex wordings susceptible to be associated with a great portion
of the surface of a sheet and which, accordingly, require a coordinated and general
viewing, according to a set succession, in order to be properly detected.
In fact, in the case of inscriptions made of rather complex bar codes,
it is not possible to use read-out devices of the optical pen type, or conventional
static scanners, since a partial read-out of the optically detectable characters
written on a document would alter in a substantial manner the detected data.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, the aim of the present invention is to overcome the
above mentioned problem, by providing an apparatus adapted to properly read-out
optically detectable characters, as re-producedon sheet elements, even in the case
in which these characters occupy a great portion of the surface of the sheet or
Within the scope of the above mentioned aim, a main object of the
present invention is to provide such an apparatus which is specifically designed
for sequentially selectively reading out, according to a preset logic order, exclusively
the optical characters written on a document, by extrapolating them from the assembly
of the printed characters reproduced on the document.
Another object of the present invention is to provide such an apparatus
which has a high read-out reliability even in the case of wordings made of very
complex optically detectable characters.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide such a
read-out apparatus which can be used in a very simple and easy manner.
According to one aspect of the present invention, the above mentioned
aim and objects, as well as yet other objects, which will become more apparent
hereinafter, are achieved by an apparatus for reading out optically detectable
characters, reproduced on sheets or parts thereof, characterized in that said
apparatus comprises a supporting panel, for supporting the sheet to be read-out,
said supporting panel being made of a clear material, and, under said supporting
panel, being provided a read-out device, comprising a decoding apparatus, facing
said supporting panel, and mounted on a supporting element which can be controllably
driven so as to scan substantially the overall surface of said sheet supported
on said supporting panel.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Further characteristics and advantages of the read-out apparatus
according to the present invention will become more apparent thereinafter from
the following detailed disclosure of a preferred, though not exclusive embodiment
of said apparatus which is illustrated, by way of an indicative, but not limitative,
example in the figures of the accompanying drawings, where:
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
- Figure 1 is a front elevation view illustrating the apparatus according to
- Figure 2 is a side elevation view of the apparatus according to the invention;
- Figure 3 is a perspective view illustrating the read-out apparatus or device
and related supporting element;
- Figure 4 is a cross-sectional view of Figure 1, substantially taken along the
section line IV-IV, and clearly illustrating the operation of the read-out apparatus
according to the present invention; and
- Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view like that of Figure 4, and relating to another
operation condition of the subject read-out apparatus.
With reference to the number references of the above mentioned figures,
the read-out apparatus according to the present invention, which has been generally
indicated at the reference number 1, comprises a casing or carter 2 defining,
at the top thereof, a supporting panel 3, which substantially horizontally extends,
and being formed by a clear or transparent material plate, thereon can be supported
a sheet element to be read-out, the side of said sheet bearing the optically detectable
characters facing against the supporting panel 3.
At the top, with respect to the supporting panel 3, there is provided
a covering element 4, which can be upwardly raised above the supporting panel
3, in order to allow the sheet to be read-out to be arranged on the supporting
Inside the casing 2, under the supporting panel 3, there is provided
a read-out device 5, comprising a decoder apparatus 6, facing the overlaying supporting
panel 3, and mounted on a supporting element 7.
The latter, in particular, can be controllably driven, in order to
scan, with the view field of the decoder apparatus 6, substantially the overall
surface of the sheet supported on the support-panel 3, to allow the decoder apparatus
to detect all the inscriptions, made of optically detectable characters, reproduced
on the sheet being read-out.
More specifically, the decoder apparatus 6 comprises a laser beam
emitter and an optical detectable character detector, which are affected by the
emitted laser light beam.
In particular, the laser beam will affect a strip of the sheet, having
a width substantially corresponding to that of the sheet and a height corresponding
to the height of the conventional bar code inscriptions.
In particular, the supporting element 7 is slidably mounted on a
pair of guides 8a and 8b extending, parallel to one another, in the horizontal
direction under the supporting panel 3 and in the length direction of the sheet.
The guides 8a and 8b can merely comprise a pair of sliding shafts,
which are affixed, at their end portions, to the apparatus framework.
As shown, the supporting element 7 is connected to the leg of a toothed
belt 9 entrained on a pair of pulleys 10a and 10b, spaced from one another, and
having their axes vertically arranged.
In particular, the pulley 10a is connected to the output shaft of
a motor-reducing which is driven by an electric motor 13, preferably a d.c. current
electric motor, of a synchronous type.
The displacement of the supporting element 7 along the guides 8a
and 8b, in particular, is controlled by means of limit devices, for example photocells,
of known type and which for simplicity have not been shown, and which are adapted
to cause the electric motor 13 to stop as the view field of the detector has arrived
at the start or at the end of the sheet being read-out.
The decoder apparatus 6 can be connected to a computer, so programmed
as to order the data detected by the detector of the decoding apparatus, so as
to allow to properly reconstruct the inscriptions made of optically detectable
characters, even in the case in which the characters are arranged at different
regions of the sheet.
The apparatus for reading-out optically detectable characters according
to the present invention operates as follows.
The sheet to be read-out is arranged on the supporting panel 3 with
its side bearing the optically detectable characters facing said supporting panel
Then, the read-out device 5 will start its reading operation by emitting
a laser light strip, involving substantially the overall width of the sheet and
which, by operating the electric motor 13 driving the supporting element 7 along
the guides 8a and 8b, is caused to progressively scan the overall length of the
The signals detected by the detector of the read-out device will
be re-ordered and decoded by the computer connected to the read-out device.
Thus, all of the information printed on the sheet in the form of
bar codes will be properly detected and decoded.
In this connection it should be apparent that, due to the fact that
the read-out device is driven with a constant speed, which can be possibly reduced
as the codes are not printed in a perfect manner, it is possible to obtain a read-out
of high reliability.
From the above disclosure and from an observation of the figures
of the accompanying drawings, it should be apparent that the invention fully achieves
the intended objects.
In particular, the fact is to be pointed out that a read-out apparatus
has been provided which is specifically adapted to read-out optically detectable
characters, or bar codes, with a high accuracy, even in the case in which said
bar codes are arranged at different regions of a sheet or document.
The disclosed apparatus is susceptible to several variations and
modifications all of which will come within the scope of the inventive idea.
Moreover, all of the details can be replaced by other technically
In practicing the invention, the used materials, as well as the contingent
size and shapes, can be any, depending on requirements.