Unilever’s Innovation to Assist Blind Shoppers

Unilever Collaborates with Be My Eyes for Enhanced Accessibility

In a significant move towards inclusivity, Unilever has partnered with the accessibility app developer Be My Eyes. This collaboration is aimed at providing a more accessible shopping experience for those who are blind or have low vision. Utilizing the Be My Eyes technology, Unilever has initiated a trial in the UK, starting with the Colman’s Singapore Noodles Meal Maker. Plans are in place to expand this service to more brands throughout 2024.

Accessible QR Codes Revolutionize Shopping Experience

The innovative approach involves the use of accessible QR (AQR) codes, developed by computer vision specialist Zappar, prominently placed on product packaging. These codes, when scanned, link the shopper directly to the Be My Eyes app. This app offers two key services: connection to a volunteer who can read and describe cooking instructions, and access to a virtual AI chat bot powered by ChatGPT-4, designed to assist with recipe and cooking queries.

First-of-its-Kind AI-Assisted Cooking for Food Products

This initiative marks the first integration of Be My Eyes technology with a food product, introducing an AI-assisted cooking experience for home cooks. Unilever is not only incorporating Be My Eyes into their customer support system but is also actively training volunteers and providing detailed product information to enhance the ChatGPT-4 AI bot’s capabilities.

Unilever’s Commitment to Digital Engagement and Accessibility

Rachana Dongre, Senior Digital Engagement and Strategy Lead at Unilever, emphasized the company’s commitment to digitizing their products. This initiative not only enhances brand engagement and shopping experiences but also focuses on making products more accessible to all consumers. The integration of Zappar’s AQR codes and Be My Eyes technology represents a significant step in ensuring that blind and low-vision shoppers have equal access to product information, thereby making the entire product experience, from shopping to cooking, more inclusive.

Addressing Challenges for Blind and Low-Vision Consumers

Mike Buckley, CEO of Be My Eyes, highlighted the long-standing challenges faced by consumers with visual impairments, particularly in reading package ingredients and cooking instructions. He praised Unilever’s initiative with Zappar and Be My Eyes as pioneering and instrumental in enhancing product accessibility and convenience for people with disabilities.

Zappar’s AQR Code: A New Paradigm in Product Accessibility

Caspar Thykier, co-founder and CEO of Zappar, described their AQR technology as a groundbreaking approach to product service. This technology significantly improves the detectability of QR codes, allowing them to be scanned from a greater distance, making it easier for visually impaired consumers to access product information.

Unilever’s Future Plans for AQR Technology

Unilever, having already implemented AQR codes on products like Colman’s and Persil, is planning to gather user feedback in collaboration with Be My Eyes and Zappar to further refine this technology. The company aims to extend this accessible technology to other products and continues to seek partnerships with accessibility experts to promote the integration of AQR technology across various products and regions. The goal is to share best practices and collaborate with other businesses in leveraging this technology for wider accessibility.