A small handheld device that can be used to read printed bar codes or characters. The device may have a shape similar to a pen, but is usually larger in diameter or may be designed to be grasped in the palm of the hand. In use it is stroked over the surface of the printing at a steady speed and an audible and/or visual signal is actioned to indicate if a satisfactory sensing of data was achieved. The wand usually only contains the sensors and the minimum of electronics and is connected to the control electronics by a flexible cable. Some recent wands include data storage and an OCR capability for reading text.