Industrial Automation


Legacy of Innovation

Omron Microscan leads an extensive legacy in the automatic identification and machine vision business. We pride ourselves in bringing ground-breaking solutions to the market since February 1982, when founder Mike Mertel integrated a laser diode into a barcode scanner, producing a smaller, faster, and safer barcode reading solution. Our history also includes the invention of the industry-standard 2D symbology, Data Matrix. Today, Omron Microscan's auto ID and machine vision business represent the convergence of multiple separate, pioneering histories, marked by continuous technology innovation that spans more than three decades.

Get to know Omron Microscan and our history of innovation. From ground-breaking firsts to award-winning solutions now implemented worldwide, we are proud of all of the unique accomplishments that have come to define our company.


Company Milestones

Below are just a few notable milestones along Omron Microscan’s timeline that illustrate our growth through technology innovation.

Microscan receives its 100th patent for a new technology that protects the innovative dome light used in Microscan's Mobile Hawk handheld imager.

US 8,000,594 brings Microscan's patent portfolio to 100 total patents.

Microscan's AutoVISION™ product suite is launched, representing the convergence of the company's barcode and machine vision lineages.

Microscan develops X-Mode technology, a best-in-class decoding algorithm for 1D and 2D codes with aggressive direct part mark (DPM) reading capabilities. This technology first appears in Omron Microscan's MINI Hawk imager.

Microscan acquires Siemens Machine Vision, which later becomes Microscan's Northeast Technology Center in 2010. The acquisition adds 10 product lines and over 60 technology patents from a long history of technology innovation.

RVSI, now a part of Microscan, releases the HawkEye® 1500, a high performance fixed-mount direct part mark reader in a smart camera format.

Microscan introduces the EZ Button for its line of auto ID products, first featured on the Quadrus® EZ and MS-3. This button performs automatic reader setup and configuration to custom settings without the use of a computer.

Microscan launches ESP® MP (Easy Setup Program Multi-Platform) software, a powerful software application that provides quick and easy setup of Microscan’s complete line of bar code scanners and imagers.

Microscan's Quadrus® Data Matrix Reader, an early product featuring auto-calibration.

Microscan introduces Auto Calibration technology. Auto-Cal is a software routine that will automatically search for and test range of focus, gain, and tracking settings and select those that achieve the best reads.

1998: The first Visionscape® machine vision system is introduced, a technology engineered by RVSI and now a cornerstone of Microscan's machine vision product line.

RVSI Acuity's complete Visionscape machine vision solution.

The Data Matrix code is invented by I.D. Matrix, an innovator in Microscan's corporate genealogy. The 2D symbology is now the industry standard in manufacturing environments.

Microscan introduces quick response Automatic Gain Control (ACG), a feedback circuit that adjusts for contrasts differences in a code to increase depth of field.
A Microscan tradeshow booth during an early 1990s event.

The machine vision lighting company, NERLITE®, is founded. NERLITE lighting products add a critical element to Microscan's machine vision product line, enabling vision systems to perform reliably in any environment. NERLITE is an innovator in Microscan's machine vision lineage.

Microscan’s MS-500 is released. Its small size helps to establish Microscan as the leading supplier of barcode readers to the clinical diagnostics industry.

Itran introduces first I-PAK system, a package inspection system popular in the pharmaceutical industry. Now a member of Microscan's machine vision family, Itran's current generation I-PAK continues as the choice of top pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Automatix introduces the world’s first PC-based machine vision system (made for the "standard platform PC" of the time, or Macintosh), the Autovision 90.

An automation tradeshow in Israel in 1983, where Automatix demonstrated its Autovision II machine vision system.

The first vision guided robotics (robot controller) with integrated machine vision is introduced by Automatix. Automatix later merges with Itran to form Acuity Imaging before becoming part of RVSI and later, Microscan.

Itran, a pioneering machine vision company, is founded and launches the world's first graphical based machine vision system, the Itran 8000, with high level tools, a step programming environment, and many more concepts still in use by Microscan as well as its competition. Itran is now a part of Microscan.

Microscan is founded by Mike Mertel.

Mike Mertel invents the world's first laser diode barcode scanner, originally designed for use in photo finishing industry. This invention is a prototype for the first Microscan scanner, MS-1000, a miniature laser diode moving-beam scanner. The MS-1000 reads code when paired with ML-1000 series decoder boards, each board uniquely programmed to read one specific code type.

Machine vision innovator, Automatix, is founded. The company's first vision system, the Autovision I, is released in 1981. Automatix is now a part of Microscan.


Innovative Histories

Many ground-breaking innovators in machine vision and auto ID make up the Omron Microscan lineage. Their legacies live on in our technology as we continue to build from the foundations these companies established. Read these histories as told by Omron Microscan employees who were there when it all took place:

Broadening Our Vision:
The History of Itran

By Joe Dziezanowski
Identifying Our Source Code: The History of I.D. Matrix

By Jason Lee
Sometime After the Big Bang: The History of Automatix

By Dr. Jonathan Ludlow

30 Years of Microscan: My Story at Our Company
By Matt Scrichfield

Focus on the Founder

Working out of his basement in 1982, Mike Mertel integrated a solid-state miniature laser diode into a barcode scanner in an effort to design a stable, miniaturized scanner for use in the photo finishing industry. What resulted was the world’s first laser diode scanner. This technology greatly reduced the size of common barcode scanners, which up to this point were built using potentially explosive helium-neon lasers encased within 6-inch tubes. In contrast to its predecessors, Mertel’s scanner was safer, smaller, more rugged, and faster, reading up to 400 scans per second – a speed that was originally demonstrated at SCANTECH 1983 reading barcode labels fixed to the rotating blades of a desktop fan.

  Microscan's original MS-1000
  laser diode scanner.

The invention of the laser diode scanner launched the foundation of Mertel’s company, which he called Microscan in recognition of his new miniaturized barcode scanning solution. By the late 1980s, Microscan had grown to become the leading supplier of embedded barcode readers to the clinical diagnostics industry thanks to the revolutionary small size of its scanners. Acquired by Fairey Group (now Spectris) in 1994, Microscan is still the leader in this market. The company’s reach has since extended to include a broader manufacturing marketplace with an emphasis on the packaging and electronics industries in addition to its continued focus on clinical customers.


The rapid growth and expansion we've seen in other advanced technologies are now happening in the field of bar-code scanners. It's an exciting time for users and developers alike, as new technologies find real-world applications on an almost daily basis. Right now, the practical, reliable, economical uses of bar-code scanners are greater than most people imagine - greater, in fact, than many of us in the industry had foreseen just a few years ago.
--Mike Mertel, Microscan Founder, 1989

Read ”Fixed-Mount Bar Code Scanning: An Introduction,” an original white paper written by Microscan founder Mike Mertel.

This document provided the foundation for Omron Microscan’s current white paper, “Barcode Basics.”


Trace Our Corporate DNA

Omron Microscan represents the convergence of multiple separate, equally innovative histories. With the 2008 acquisition of Siemens Machine Vision business, Omron Microscan’s genealogy not only includes the pioneering auto ID line spawned by Mertel, but a history in machine vision that spans more than three decades. Its milestones include the invention of the first personal computer-based machine vision system and the industry standard 2D code, Data Matrix. Omron Microscan has also acquired Label Vision Systems, Inc. (LVS) and, with it, a full suite of barcode and print quality verification solutions for enabling manufacturers to easily meet regulations for data standardization and compliance.


Think You Know Omron Microscan? Take Our Quiz!

Watch the video below to test your knowledge of Omron Microscan and our rich history of machine vision and auto ID innovation.


Evolution of the Microscan Logo






Omron Microscan continues to be a recognized technology leader within the auto ID industry through continuous new product development in the areas of barcode reading and machine vision. Our solutions help manufacturers around the world drive down cost and waste, automate critical manufacturing processes and increase yields. Contact us today to discuss your project and put our legacy of auto ID and machine vision expertise to the test!