The original (white) Square reader is unencrypted, and the output can be
read by an app, but you'll need to a) know how to write an app for the
platform(s) you wish, and b) figure out how to decode the serial data, which
isn't particularly well documented out there in the world.
If you're using Chrome Canary, you can load up this page:
http://webaudiodemos.appspot.com/AudioRecorder/index.html and connect a
Square, and see an oscilloscope output of the data. Again, you'd have to
interpret what that serial data means for you, but this is the kind of stuff
that will eventually be possible with HTML5, once it's widely adopted.
Camera access is also forthcoming in HTML5, so there may come a time when
you can natively do barcode scanning using the rear-facing camera of your
For now, while things still require mobile apps, the most sustainable
solution may be to develop the app in Phonegap (http://phonegap.com/) so
it's already in HTML5 when the technology is finally ready to just do this
in the browser instead of a compiled app.
Or, Bluetooth. That works too.
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 1:27 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Tablets to help with circulation services
FWIW: All of the card-readers I've tested (Square, Paypal) require their
particular apps to "read"...there's no generic output that's readable by the
At least on iOS, access to the camera is via an API only accessible by an
app, which means no generic browser based access to the camera output
either. If you were to write an iOS app, of course, all bets are off...you
could do what you wanted with the camera, including barcode reading.
Android is much less locked down than iOS, but I'm not as familiar with it.
If I were doing this, I'd look into using a bluetooth scanner in combo with
the tablet. In that case, the scanner just presents as if it were a
keyboard, passing the data off to the tablet just as if it were keyed in.
That would work in-browser, in app, or where ever. We're considering this
model as a possibility for some services in our new building, with the
hangup being desensitization of the materials after checkout.
On Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM, Stephen Francoeur <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> We're looking into ways that tablets might be used by library staff
> assisting patrons in a long line at the circ desk. With a tablet, an
> additional staff person could pick folks off the line who might have
> things that can be handled on a properly outfitted tablet.
> I am wondering if anyone has any examples of a library using the
> camera on a tablet to scan barcodes on library materials (for check
> out or check in) or if anyone has used one of those magnetic stripe
> readers that you can attach to some tablets (such as the Square
> Register for the iPad which can be used to process credit cards)? I'm
> sure it's been done with a netbook; we're solely interested in doing this
with a tablet.
> We're trying to see if we can install the GUI for Ex Libris Aleph on a
> tablet running Microsoft RT. If this might work on tablets running
> Android or iOS, that would be interesting as well.
> Any examples or thoughts about this would be most welcome.
> Stephen Francoeur
> User Experience Librarian
> Newman Library
> Room 516
> Baruch College
> 151 E. 25th Street
> New York, NY 10010
> [log in to unmask]