Barcode recognition system to help blind people shop

Posted Aug 18, 2018 by Tim Sandle
A new barcode recognition system has been designed to help blind and visually impaired people to navigate around stores and to assist them with shopping.
A typical grocery store aisle in America.
A typical grocery store aisle in America.
User:Joerite (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The new barcode technology comes from OrCam Technologies. The barcode recognition takes center-stage with the company's next generation wearable artificial vision system. The new technology is called the OrCam MyEye 2.0. This is is recognition of the challenges that the visually impaired face when shopping, in terms of identifying objects, especially when product labels are tiny or where the print is not clear.
The barcode recognition system can rapidly identify tens of thousands of barcodes, as linked to an array of consumer products. The system makes use of similar artificial vision technology as with other wearable systems that enable visually impaired people to 'read' printed and digital text as marked on a surface or to recognize faces. Similar technology has also been deployed to assist the visually impaired with identifying bank notes in real time.
At the heart of the barcode system is artificial intelligence software. The software can analyze and communicate visual information via an audio signal. In practice, when the device detects a barcode, suhc as a label on a product or on a shelf, it will automatically verify if the item is listed within its database. Where there is a match, the device informs the user via audio about the product name, weight and price.
OrCam have a set number of products listed in the software database. The aim is keep on updating this and to expand the barcode database so that an increasing range of products are captured. The system is equipped to receive periodic database updates.
One OrCam user June Wheeler, spoke with EE News Europe about the usefulness of the device: "As a result of my macular degeneration, I began to find everyday actions, such as placing toothpaste on my toothbrush, increasingly difficult to carry out. Identifying products while shopping, recognizing faces, and reading the newspaper were among a growing number of daily activities with which I had difficulty as my vision deteriorated."
She says the new device has changed her life: "With OrCam MyEye I am now able to buy the correct items in the supermarket and I do not get confused between products as I use my OrCam MyEye to read the labels and make sure I am selecting what I intend to buy."