Talking trolleys could help visually impaired shoppers

1 min read

A product-design student has made a talking gadget for supermarket trolleys to help the millions of elderly and visually impaired people who find shopping difficult.

Ben Charles designed the wireless device for his final degree project on his Computer Aided Product Design course at Portsmouth University.

The device is attached to a trolley’s handle and, when a shopper scans a product, it displays product information and price in large type and says the price aloud.

Charles said: ’I wanted to design a device that makes it easier for the elderly and visually impaired to shop in supermarkets. Many of them face huge hurdles in trying to read product information, such as if a product contains nuts or if it is high in fat, and many can’t read the price labels.

According to Charles’s research, three quarters of the UK’s 13 million pensioners, or 9.5 million people, find it difficult to read prices and product information in supermarkets.

’Millions of people find it really hard − or impossible − to know what they are buying and at what price. These people are not disabled − but they are socially handicapped,’ he said.

The rechargeable device has an adjustable, tilting screen and three large buttons embossed with braille, which a user presses to display price, product information and a running total of the cost of the shopping.

It also gives clear visual and audible warnings if a product contains any common allergens, such as gluten and nuts, and is also capable of triggering an alarm at a customer-service desk if a user requires assistance to reach a product.

Charles now hopes a supermarket will buy the device.

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