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You Look Like I Need a Drink

**Not Quite Web 2.0**

Hacking a Symbol Barcode Scanner at Kohls

Monday, September 05, 2005

I was meandering around a Kohls Department store in Baltimore the other day and happened to notice their new spiffy barcode scanner kiosks located in different sections of the store. After letting my daughter scan a few random things, I looked over and happend to notice that under the screen were 4 grey unmarked buttons. Realizing that I might be able to pull up an interface, I started pushing some button combinations. For the sake of the article, I will call the buttons 1,2,3,4 (reading from left to right) as they are unmarked. I also took note that the scanner was made from a company called 'Symbol' and stored that information for later use.

From the main screen which tells you to scan an item to verify its price, I tried a sequence of buttons in rapid succession but didn't come up with much. I finally tried holding random buttons down for a few seconds and lo and behold a different screen popped up. Holding down buttons 1,3 and 4 for about 2 seconds, I was greeted with a very familiar blank screen with a crosshair asking me to recalibrate with a stylus (hrmm, Palm OS??). Well luckily for them, I left my Palm Tungsten (haven't used it for ages now) at home so I wasn't able to do anything at this point. I decided to try and see if I could find any other key commands.




From the recalibration screen, I held down buttons 3 and 4 and was sent back to the main page asking me to scan an item BUT this time I was rewarded with a QWERTY keyboard onscreen labeled 'input panel.' Cursing the gods for not having a stylus, I was dragged away to look at womens' clothes (not by choice mind you).




I was able to spend a few seconds and minutes on the other Symbol kiosks at the store (about 5) and found that 4 of them would immediately send me to the stylus recalibration screen when holding down the 1,3 and 4 buttons but one kiosk refused to do so. I was also not able to duplicate the main screen + QWERTY except on one kiosk. Looks like I will have to make another trip out there with a stylus very soon. If anyone has information on this, I would love to hear it.

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posted by aL, 10:34 AM

3 Comments:

Yeah WalMart uses them now too. I'm fairly sure you can't get to anything. Same button presses work though. Don't really need a stylus to do anything just touch the screen with your fingers and you can select the qwerty keys. Nothing that I have tried yet (ctrl alt del, etc.) works.

Something really cool though. If you unplug one it has to reboot and if you work quick enough WinCE loads and you can get to Start ->Programs -> and can see that solitaire is on them along with many other standard CE apps. Haven't found a way to stop it from booting the proprietary software that scans though.
commented by Blogger M, 3:44 AM  
thanks for the info.
commented by Blogger aL, 12:27 PM  
Just press the windows key after you get the keyboard
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:00 PM  

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