Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Talking Barcode Scanners

I'm looking for a practical and affordable means of identifying products by their barcodes.

Smartphone apps are out of the question as I can't use a touchscreen and lack sufficient vision to locate the barcode on a product, much less take a photo sufficient for the app to work.

The ID Mate line of barcode scanners seems to have everything I need(omni-directional, built-in database, talking, no external hardware needed), but with readily available models going for 1300USD, they are prohibitively expensive.

I've found cheaper scanners(aroundthe 400USD range), but they required a connection to a PC to access an online database, making it completely impractical before accounting for compatibility issues that might arise from me being a Linux user.

Best I can tell, A generic omni-directional USB barcode scanner and a Raspberry Pi could be used with the right software to build one for under 100USD, but such a project would be way beyond my current skills with programming and hardware hacking.

Ideally, I'd want something self-contained that I could pull out of my pocket, hold down a button while running an item under the scan head until it beeps upon finding a barcode, would speak a product name after consulting either an internal database or an Internet database over built-in Wi-Fi and pressing another button would give more information from the products database entry. I'm pretty sure the ID Mate comes close enough to this, but something a fraction of the price would be nice.


There are currently 3 replies

Sort Replies Oldest to Newest


Re: Talking Barcode Scanners



For reference, here is the manufacturer's webpage for the ID Mate Quest:
http://www.envisionamerica.com/products/idmate/

Which is apparently 300USD cheaper if ordered directly from the manufacturer than if purchased from Amazon.com, and the older summit model is 700USD if ordered directly from the manufacturer. Both models go for 1300USD on Amazon. Based on prior research into this area, these are the devices to beat.

As for other questions presented: I'm functionally blind(you could probably hold up one of the products I'd want to use the scanner on in front of my face and I wouldn't see it unless you were waving it back and forth). Also, I live in a small town, where even before I went blind, it was more convenient to find what you are looking for online than in local stores for anything remotely niche.

And based on my experience trying out the Blaze ET's(http://hims-inc.com/products/blaze-et/) built-in OCR, reliably photographing food labels for OCR is not practical. the OCR stand included in the Blaze Accessory pack turns the Blaze into one of the more affordable book scanners on the market, but the stand isn't portable, food labels don't always use common fonts, and any hand movement could easily render a photo too blurry for OCR to work. Not to mention, the type of food package I have the most trouble identify are canned foods, which adds a curved surface to the equation, and no hint as to which part of the label contains the product name.

Though, at present, this is more about convenience than necessity, as most of the time, when I can't identify something sufficiently, there's a sighted person in the house to assist me. If I lived alone, I'd probably think the 700 of the ID Mate Summit or even the 1000USD of the Quest fairly easy to justify.


Re: Talking Barcode Scanners



Barcodes are just encoded numbers. Every store can implement their own numbering systems that link a barcode number to their product. You would need access to an actively maintained database of many stores and products. I doubt that service would be free.

I feel like your best bet would be a small device with a built in camera that runs some OCR software on the image and speaks the largest text it sees.


Re: Talking Barcode Scanners



More info please. Just how good are your eyes? Are you reading this with eyes or ears? Does it really need to read barcode, or just read labels?

Searching AFB.org for "Talking Barcode Scanners" was not helpful. There is a government supported website that lists assistive tech products; I think it is abledata.com and money comes from the dept. of education.

All eye help is local. Where do you live? All states have agencies to help the blind. Libraries have low vision support groups. Look for resource lists; this site probably has one.


Log in to Post a Reply