The new barcode on the block.
Technology empowering the visually impaired.
Resembling the QR (Quick Response) code, the NaviLens smart code, a configuration of brightly contrasting coloured blocks on a black background, is a major advance in the enhancement of accessibility, inclusivity and independence for the blind and visually impaired.
UPC barcodes (and latterly QR codes) have been with us for decades, exponentially improving the customer experience. The new NaviLens smart code technology is doing just that for the blind and visually impaired retail consumer.
To mark global World Sight Day, October 8 2020, Kelloggs UK & IRE, in partnership with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and CO-op Supermarkets, launched a trial featuring NaviLens codes on their CoCo Pops cereal boxes.
This trial follows research conducted by RNIB which revealed that nine in ten blind and partially sighted people feel that information on food packaging is difficult or impossible to read.
NaviLens technology can be used both in-store and in the home.
The on-pack code code can be accurately scanned from a distance of up to three meters using a smartphone camera and a free app. As users scan their environment, audio cues allow them to find the centre of the tag in the phones field of view. Information stored within the code including ingredients, allergens, dietary and recycling details are then audibly conveyed to the user, allowing them to make informed choices.
The information can vary depending on where the user is standing in relation to the tag, and can be programmed in multiple languages, with the phone automatically selecting its native language.
Unlike with QR codes or traditional UPC barcodes, users don’t need to know exactly where a tag is located in order to be able to read it, it's an ‘unfocused’ tag - an invaluable aid to the visually impaired.
NaviLens technology is currently used across the Barcelona, Madrid, and Murcia city’s transport systems and the New York Metro, making cities easier to navigate for thousands of visually impaired citizens. However it’s use in the Kellogg’s trial is the first time it has been used on food packaging. If successful, Kellogg’s hope to adapt more of its cereal boxes to include this technology.
Comments from trial participants:
Kelloggs’s managing director, Chris Silcock
“Over two million people in the UK live with sight loss and are unable to simply read the information on our cereal boxes. That’s why we partnered with RNIB to trial special boxes of Coco Pops with NaviLens technology, a first for food packaging. If the trial is a success, we would hope that it could appear on more of our cereal boxes for visually impaired shoppers to access.”
Strategic accessibility lead at RNIB, Marc Powell
“Important information on packaging can often be in very small print, making it difficult for blind and partially sighted people to read. This can make shopping a real challenge, especially for those with specific dietary requirements as they can’t see the all-important nutritional information. “This trial with Kellogg’s using NaviLens technology has raised the bar in inclusive and accessible packaging design allowing people with low or no vision to locate a product on the shelf and access all information about it completely independently for the very first time.”
Customer director for Co-op, Ali Jones
“Co-op has long been committed to finding ways to provide greater access for blind or partially sighted customers and nearly 20 years ago we pioneered Braille on packaging, which is now included across hundreds of our own-brand products. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with Kellogg’s as they now trial NaviLens for a new generation of customers.”
The new code on the block, the NaviLens smart code, is empowering blind and visually impaired people in leading inclusive, independent, informed and healthy lifestyles.
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