Swiss scanners to help blind in the kitchen

February 22, 2010
A blind trainee at a hi-tech call centre gets instructions from a supervisor in Moscow in 2009. Blind people in Switzerland will soon have help telling their ravioli from their tinned fruit in the kitchen as a new loud-speaking device able to decipher 50,000 products was launched Monday.

Blind people in Switzerland will soon have help telling their ravioli from their tinned fruit in the kitchen as a new loud-speaking device able to decipher 50,000 products was launched Monday.

"It is almost indispensable for a who wants to live independently", the spokesman for the Swiss union for the blind that will sell the device, told AFP.

"Being blind myself, I can tell you that if you are in the kitchen and you want to open a tin of ravioli without running the risk of actually picking up some tinned fruit, it is absolutely necessary", Martin Mischler said.

The scanner, which uses speech synthesis, has the size and appearance of a small television remote control.

It is programmed to be able to read the barcodes of 50,000 products sold by leading Swiss retailer Migros, which collaborated on the launch of the device.

Some scanners will be available to use in Migros supermarkets.

"In future we can imagine that (the scanner) will also give the price or expiry date", Mischler said, who estimates only "a minority" of Switzerland's 20,000 blind and partially-sighted will use the device.

The union is in talks with other companies to enable to the scanner recognise a wider range of products.

The will be available in March for 333 euros (453 dollars).

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not rated yet Mar 02, 2010
Several cell phone apps, like Redlaser, take images of UPC bar codes captured by the cell phones camera and send it to be processed into a UPC number. This UPC is then used to provide associated information about the product online. This same sort of technology could be used in this case and perhaps at less expense. The primary development costs may be in developing a cell phone convenient for blind use for the app to run on-which would be a broader use technology with wide appeal as well if it doesn't yet exist. Redlaser and others have made an SDK of the technology available for development in other apps.

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