Logistics technology to help vision impaired

Life just got a whole lot easier for Australia’s vision impaired with the release of a portable talking barcode scanner.

Known as the ID Mate, the scanner can help the blind and low visioned at home, school or work — and even while doing the groceries.

Visual Independence, an Australian charity, has released the ID Mate.

The organisation’s Bernie Slagtman says it is an exciting step forward that will allow the vision impaired to become more independent and empowered in their daily lives.

The ID Mate uses Omni directional technology to scan the barcode of an item.

Users can listen to spoken descriptions from the scanner’s database which holds details of more than one million Australian barcode products.

Items not initially identified from the database can be added through user voice recording.

Mr Slagtman says the ID Mate is also a perfect application for migrants to record information in their native tongues.

“And this could also extend to those not literate in English,” he says.

The ‘all in one’ barcode scanner can identify food, music, medicines, clothes and appliance instructions and can also be used for document retrieval.

Extra information and memos can be recorded, played and erased on the lightweight, easy-to-carry ID Mate.

Mr Slagtman says the “life-changing technology” has the full endorsement of Vision Australia and the support of other peak agencies.

“Vision Australia works in partnership with people who are blind or have low vision to ensure they have access and can fully participate in every part of life they choose,” says the organisation’s business development general manager, Tim Evans.

“The barcode scanner is a great example of this.”

“It is a clever innovation that enables independence for many people who are blind or have low vision. “Vision Australia is excited to support Visual Independence’s initiative,” he says

Visual Independence has made a number of scanners available to peak agencies, so those wishing to find out more about the ID Mate should contact their relevant organisation for demonstrations, training and support.

The ID mate retails for $1,500 and Visual Independence, a not-for-profit charity, wants to help those who may find the cost prohibitive by seeking donations and grants from government, individuals, groups and corporate organisations.

Funds will be used to provide grants to the most needy within the vision-impaired community.

Visual Independence is able to offer the ID Mate at a discounted rate of $1,350 to those only receiving the Centrelink pension.

The charity aims to ensure that vision-impaired Australians have the same access to product information as sighted people.

Retailers and manufacturers can help the ID Mate project by providing GS1 Australia or Visual Independence with their individual barcode numbers, descriptions, ingredients, product warnings and instructions.

Bernie Slagtman says this simple exchange of information will greatly enhance the quality of life within the vision-impaired community and urges interested people to contact him for more information.

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