Solutions that link products and digital product info are becoming ever more common. They offer a range of possibilities for both the normal-sighted and the visually impaired. Food packaging, for example, can include links to information relevant to the individual customer, from the origins of the product to ecological aspects and possible allergy risks.
The HearMeFeelMe project, a collaborative effort by VTT, TopTunniste (Finland) Tecnalia (Spain) and Demokritos (Greece), introduced five different applications for acquiring medical information, all of them based on NFC technology (Near Field Communication). By touching the info code on the packaging with his or her mobile phone, the user downloads product and dosage information which can be heard on a phone or computer. End users participating in the project represented the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI), the Caritas Foundation, Joutsen Pharmacy 6 in Oulu and SSI, a Spanish provider of geriatric services.
Speech tagging application finds most favour
The testers' favourite was Top Tunniste's Touch 'n' Tag demo, a mobile phone application that enables visually impaired users to identify everyday items, including food, with the help of voice memos. The phone must be equipped with an NFC reader. To record a memo tag, the user touches the NFC label on the packaging and dictates the information into the phone. The recording can then be listened to by touching the label again with the phone. The test run indicated that the application was most commonly used to mark food packaging. According to the majority of users, it was useful in recognising items and recalling product information. Additional benefit was seen in the possibility of recording the desired information in the user's own words.
Another demo application was developed during the HearMeFeelMe project, completed at the end of 2011. This was the so-called speaking medicine packaging. When touched, this provides spoken dosage instructions and other important information. The data was stored on the NFC chip by