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Cat Eye

An assistive device for independent shopping.

Introduction


Duration: Four weeks,Architecture and Virtual Spaces Final Project at Mississippi State University.
Year: 2006
Artifacts: Full paper

Personal shopping is among the hardest activity for physically challenged people (especially those using motorized wheel chairs) as well as visually impaired and/or elderly people with physical disabilities. The described invention is an attempt to assist people with or without disabilities for independent shopping. The invention uses a RFID scanner to scan product information that is then displayed on the screen of a wearable computer. The design includes 1) earpiece, 2) display visor, 3) Bluetooth connectivity, 4) RFID scanner, all mounted on a 5) eyewear that the user can either purchase or rent from the retail store. For visually impaired people who may face difficulty in reading information on the display; the information can also be translated to an audio format using common text readers.


Presented at the International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence, (ICADI, 2006)

Research

Understanding the user is an essential step in good design. we used a variety of research methods to develop a clear understanding of who our users are, what our users desire, and ways to personalize the experience.

Solution

The invention (which we call Cat Eye) proposes to use specially designed eyewear with a barcode/RFID reader, eye glass and Bluetooth wireless link built-in. A clip on viewer (like Micro Optical Corp's SV6 viewer http://www.microopticalcorp.com/) may also be added to the consumer's existing eyewear for the same purpose. In this system the customer can mount the Cat Eye system on her existing eyewear or can rent/borrow the Cat Eye system from the grocery store itself.  When the customer is interested in a product, she simply pulls up to the product shelf. Using the joystick on the wheelchairs controller, she can ask the RFID detector mounted on the Cat Eye to scan the RFID tag attached to the product or on the product shelf. The computer then displays the product information and the unit price of the product on the Micro Optical visor. The information can also be heard through the ear piece; the computer uses a simple text-to-speech software to accomplish this. The customer now has the option to either add the product to the virtual shopping cart or cancel it. This process can be repeated till the user finishes her shopping and wishes to checkout. Once the user decides to checkout, the information in the virtual cart can be transmitted to the central database. At this point the customer can pick the goods up herself or ask the vendor to arrange a home delivery. This method simplifies the checkout process and nullifies the pain of carrying the products for an individual bound to a wheel chair. Hence put simply, this invention integrates the simplicity of online shopping with the social experience of physical shopping.