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Zappar unveils Zapvision to assist the partially-sighted to obtain product information via their phone

David Murphy

Augmented reality (AR) firm Zappar has announced the launch of its ‘Zapvision’ tech, which aims to provide access to relevant product information to everyone as a basic right, regardless of their visual acuity. 

A cutting-edge computer vision technology and code system, Zapvision aims to help the blind and partially-sighted access information from products on supermarket shelves and cupboards at home instantly via their smartphone. 

Zapvision builds upon a standard QR code – Zappar calls it a call it a D3 QR code – to enable scanning from a distance to deliver relevant and personalized content that adapts to smartphone accessibility settings. To use it, with the app’s camera function running, point the camera in the direction of the product. At around 1.15 metres away, a 15mm D3 QR code will be detected – that’s over 5x the scanning distance of regular QR codes from a mobile device. 

Zapvision will then announce the category of the product and its physical distance from the user through text-to-speech. It can detect multiple codes simultaneously in the camera view, allowing the user to select which product they’re most interested in at home or on store shelves.

As the user moves closer, at around 70cm, Zapvision can announce the relevant product information provided by the brand or manufacturer, such as the product format and variant, the product benefit, specific allergens, ingredients or other information within the on-pack data that could be important. That’s still three times the distance of normal QR code scanning performance.

When scanned in an app that doesn’t feature the Zapvision SDK, the QR code directs the user to the standard URL chosen for that pack by the brand, such as a promotional microsite.

Zapvision will work in any accessibility app featuring the Zapvision SDK (or the free to download Zapvision app as of Q4 this year on iOS and Android) via the camera function. The Zapvision SDK will also be made available for free for any developer to integrate into their existing native apps.

“We’ve been exploring different approaches to code scanning, detection and localisation for a number of years for different use cases,” said Zappar Co-founder and CEO, Caspar Thykier. “With Zapvision we have an opportunity to allow all consumer packaged goods brands and retailers around the world who are already embracing QR codes on their packaging and signage and truly believe in their social responsibility and brand purpose to simply and cost-effectively improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It’s a beautifully simple solution to a global problem. It doesn’t solve all the issues affecting the blind and partially-sighted community as they navigate the world around them. But it is an important part of the jigsaw to a more inclusive and accessible society.”