Zappar, an AIPIA member which specialises in Augmented Reality (AR) creation, has launched Zapvision technology, which aims to provide access to relevant product information to everyone as a basic right, regardless of their visual ability.

The possibility that computer vision technologies offer those with impairments or disabilities is enormous. For example, Google showcased its prototype AR translation glasses for the deaf and hard of hearing last month.

During the AWE exhibition in the USA, recently Zappar showcased this innovative adaptation of QR technology, helping the visually impaired to navigate the shopping experience, enabling them to find the products on supermarket shelves while providing them access to vital product, price, and brand information in real-time.

Zapvision is a brand-new scanning technology and type of QR code that can be scanned at distance and adapts to smartphone accessibility settings for native apps. These ‘D3 QR codes’ (named after its distinctive ‘dot-dot-dash’ pattern) using the Zapvision SDK, can be scanned at over 5x the distance (115cm) of a normal QR code scanned through the camera on a smartphone, the company says.

Brands can easily and affordably implement this D3 QR code on packaging at scale without having to use any new code scheme, use up any additional space on pack, or introduce new printing processes, according to Zappar.

So partially sighted customers can find products, either in-store or on the shelf at home and access the product info they need, claims the company. The Zapvision SDK and D3 Codes are supported by Zappar’s CMS to make structuring information for the D3 codes easy for any brand team to set up and manage.

This AR technology will work in any accessibility app featuring the Zapvision SDK (a free-to-download Zapvision app will be available from Q4 2022 on iOS and Android) via the camera function. The Zapvision SDK will be available for free for any developer to integrate into their existing apps.

Users simply point the camera at the product, and at around 1.1 metres away, a 15mm D3 QR code will be detected. Zapvision will 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 easy product selection.

As the user moves closer Zapvision can read out whatever relevant information the brand has chosen to provide. This single code scheme can service both the partially sighted and sighted audiences. By scanning the code with their phone’s built-in QR scanner, or their own QR scanner of choice, sighted users can visit the traditional site referenced by the QR code.

Caspar Thykier, CEO and co-founder at Zappar explained: “We’ve been exploring different approaches to code scanning, detection, and localisation for a number of years for different use cases. With Zapvision we have an opportunity to allow all CPG brands and retailers around the world, who are already embracing QR codes on their packaging and signage, to simply and cost-effectively improve the lives of 100s 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 a step towards a more inclusive and accessible society.”

This article was created in collaboration with AIPIA (the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association). Packaging Europe and AIPIA are joining forces to bring news and commentary about the active and intelligent packaging landscape to a larger audience. To learn more about this partnership, click here.