Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Summing up our new findings 2

Carrying on with the story...

My second thought for the device is regarding the 'Use By' and 'Best Before' dates on products. Admittedly we never thought about this in the original design of the menu system and information system (shocking really, I used to work in a supermarket and had to keep the legal documents for this bit!) but I have been thinking about this today and I can quickly see a problem...this information isn't exactly readable by a barcode scanner!

I have thought of a way around this. Currently products that require this information have the date printed on them and in supermarkets, items which are tagged with barcodes printed in-store that have prices which change with each individual item (such as reduced items) tend to have the price hidden within the barcode (once you see enough of them, you soon realise which sections of these barcodes state the item is reduced, state which department it was reduced by and its new price) and this could be easily incorporated into a small barcode located close to the main barcode that contains the products 'Use By' or 'Best Before' date. Products that don't require this sort of information could be given a 'NULL' tag.

This would cure this problem with ease and would cost hardly anything to implement. My final comments on barcodes considers their location on products. I personally believe that it would be simple to replace current barcodes with a barcode 'ring' which repeats itself all around the product. This could either replace current barcodes or it could be developed as a special barcode just recognised by the Brain and I believe manufactures would not mind implementing the ideas here in the face of all of them making the same modifications in their packaging which could increase sales as blind users will have easier access to automatically finding our about new products due to the proposed methods of product location and identification.


At 28 March, 2006 10:39, Blogger ToxicFire said...

There is a rather large flaw with the idea of having a second bar code close to the main one to contain best before information, in that the barcode reader will not be able to distinguish between barcodes when gathering general information on the location of the product on the shelf, it would require the user to locate a specific secondry barcode on a product they cannot see well or at all, as stated it would be far better if the stores a dopted a barcode ring around the package. But still it would be far easier to include this in the extra info, than a second barcode reading, though this does not allow for products that have a variety of expiration dates. This would be more an area where RFID tags would allow the high light and individulisation of information such as this.

At 28 March, 2006 11:14, Blogger Daniel Trimm said...

Maybe, however many products already have a second barcode next to the main UPC barcode. Both are of completley different designs and as such both are only read by the scanners that are configured to read them, the scanners never get confused. Working in a supermark taught me all about this. So this isn't actually a flaw

I said maybe above in reference to RFID tags, I have 3 reasons for not liking them on individual products:

* The have to be added on to packaging, by adding something on to packaging you make it removeable, some people are sick enough to this (Think about why food has anti-tamper devices these days)

* Having a handful of RFID tags contain unique data is ok, having hundreds screaming the same info at you over and over again (problem with tagging each item) just leaves people confused as to what item is on that shelf. To solve this you could get up close to the RFID before sends its signal, doing this just brings you to the location problem associated with single barcodes.

* RFID tag creation and deployment costs money and a fair bit of it. The technology doesnt work so well in an environment that has a fast paced turnover of packaging and companies tend to be very reluctant to go to such costs. Also packaging gets damaged easily and the fast pace life of supermarkets leads to products getting bashed around a lot, these mini tags would need to be highly resistent of that and experience has shown me that in many cases not even the simple 2-metal security tags that are used are this reliable or durable, and they are meant for such environments.


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