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CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- A new barcode scanning machine, designed for customers with visual impairment, food allergies, or special dietary requirements, is being piloted in a SPAR supermarket here.
The scanner, called TELE-EYE, reads out nutritional information about supermarket products and gives spoken warnings about common allergy or intolerance ingredients.
TELE-EYE was developed as part of PACKAGE, a European project coordinated by Dr. David Carus and his team at the University of Strathclyde. "TELE-EYE is sophisticated technology, but it is also very user-friendly," Carus said. "We designed the equipment for use by shoppers who may be elderly, have visual impairments, or have restricted mobility."
Carus pointed out that recent research carried out by the Royal National Institute for the Blind showed that one in five people can't read the small print on food labels or medicines. "For many people, such as those with food allergies or intolerances, this is a very dangerous situation. As our aging population is growing all the time, this issue really needs to be addressed."
Supermarket owner Colin Landsburgh said, "We get one thousand customers per day in the supermarket, and TELE-EYE is already proving to be very popular. Virtually every elderly customer complains about product packaging, in particular the illegible small print. This machine is perfect for them, as it reads product labels out loud. TELE-EYE has also captured the imagination of our younger customers. Kids love it because of the new technology, and they have been introducing their friends and families to the equipment, too."