Retail Solutions - Tesco and Spar back speaking barcode trials

Supermarket giant Tesco and c-store chain Spar are involved in a speaking barcode project.

Researchers at Strathclyde and Dundee Universities are testing a speaking barcode reader, which could aid the partially sighted and those with special dietary requirements.

The prototype, Tele-Eye, is being tested at a Spar store at Carnoustie, Scotland, and has benefited from Tesco's input.

'We had advice from Tesco in the beginning to guide us on what retailers would be looking for in a device like this, and we have sent them a report on our findings,' said Strathclyde University senior lecturer of engineering Dr David Carus.

The PC-based reader identifies a product from the barcode and accesses information, such as ingredients or nutritional details, from a localised store database.

Dr Carus hopes that a big retailer such as Tesco will collaborate with the project, so that it will have access to a more comprehensive product database.

The improvements to blind and partially-sighted people's shopping experience is clear, but Dr Carus believes that the application could be more mainstream.