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Craig Aberle thinks barcode scanners are boring. In fact, he says he’s “bored to tears” by the conventional white, gray and putty-colored readers that have been used for years.

Hoping to inspire manufacturers to come up with new and original options, Aberle, publisher of and and a self-described barcode evangelist, created a contest to redesign barcode scanners.

More than 100 entries from some 34 designers were submitted, including a Homer Simpson figure and another resembling a shower head. The winning scanner was a tubular design reminiscent of a child’s kaleidoscope. The entry, from Bender Design of Finland, featured disposable, easy-to-change covers that could efficiently and inexpensively be themed for various holidays like Halloween, or branded for stores and promotions. The barcode imaging engine fits neatly in the design.

“If I find barcode scanners boring, imagine how they look to the consumer?” says Aberle. “If the consumer found the [checkout experience] fun and memorable …[they] might give the store more business and tell friends about it – all because that POS scanner suddenly got cool.”