Boffins help visually impaired 'read' in shops

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Boffins help visually impaired 'read' in shops

Near Field Communication technology sends product info to mobile phone.

Researchers at Finland's VTT organisation have created a system to help visually impaired people find out about the products on offer in a shop. 

The Seeingeyephone project is aimed at customers who are unable to read product information in retail environments.

The system uses an RFID reader and tag emulation technology to allow handheld devices, such as mobile phones, to gather information from tagged objects.

Seeingeyephone uses an embedded Near Field Communication (NFC) chip along with a Topaz tag made by British company Innovision. 

The tag contains an ID and address with product-specific data, such as price, use-by date and nutritional values, and is attached to the shelf next to each product.

When the customer holds the Seeingeyephone unit up to the tag, the information is retrieved and the phone's text-to-speech synthesiser feeds the information directly to the user in their chosen language.

The invention won 'Most Innovative NFC Proposal of the Year 2007' at the first European NFC Competition held last month at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
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