Japanese electronics company Toshiba has developed a food-recognition technology for supermarket checkouts.
Instead of barcodes, the scanner uses a camera to identify objects—so fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t usually have barcodes can be automatically identified and input by staff more easily.
“Fruits 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,” Keiichi Hasegawa of Toshiba said. “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.”
Only objects put in front of the ‘Object Recognition Scanner’ (ORS) are ‘illuminated’ on screen and seen by the camera, so that noise in the background of the object does not interfere and confuse the scanner.
The scanner can recognize objects while they’re moving, the difference between different types of similar objects (such as, a Fuji apple, a Jonagold, and a Matsu apple), and even beer cans and coupons.
To differentiate similar objects, the camera recognizes the subtle different patterns in color and pattern.
Currently, Toshiba is creating a database of all supermarket items throughout the year—so that it includes seasonal fruits and vegetables—and fine-tuning the scanner.
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