Supermarket scanner recognizes objects


Everyone who has been to a supermarket now compared to one 20 or 30 years ago know just how much more efficient life at the checkout line has become thanks to the barcode sticker on all products. I remember that as a kid, the staff at the checkout counter needed to key in the item code itself for the till to register that item as sold, but these days, the “beeps” of such barcode scanners pervade all checkout lines as people rush from one place to another.

Well, Toshiba Tec must have figured out that they have something better up their sleeves – that is, to make obsolete standard barcodes in supermarkets. This laser scanner will not read barcodes, but rather, it is capable of recognizing the merchandise itself, regardless of whether it is fresh produce or packaged goods, thanks to a special algorithm and what I would suppose is a camera of decent performance levels.

Formally known as the Object Recognition Scanner, this laser scanner certainly comes in handy. Toshiba Tec says, “Fruit and vegetables in supermarkets don’t usually have barcodes, because they’re put out while they’re fresh. So these items can’t be read at the register using barcodes, which means staff need to input data to record them. If staff are part-time employees, they may not recognize some items, which can cause delays. We’re developing this new scanner to solve that problem.”

The laser scanner will make use of pattern recognition technology that is being worked on by Toshiba, and this technology is able to tell the difference between merchandise as well as different objects, discarding the latter as noise, without sacrificing on performance since the scanner itself is capable of operating at high speeds. Fresh produce in addition to printed items, the scanner recognizes. All right, apologies for the Yoda reference there, but it is definitely something that is worth looking into if it were to be faster than a standard barcode scanner at the checkout line. More fine tuning work on it is required though as at press time.


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