My Supermarket Experience
By Noga, OrCam QA Team When I first arrived at OrCam as a QA Tester I really didn’t know what to expect. My job description was a junior tester in the QA team, which basically means doing anything from testing new versions of the OrCam software to organizing databases and generally anything that needs to be done, but doesn’t require much experience or knowledge. On my first day I was given a task that I found to be unexpectedly eye-opening. It is something that most of the employees from the QA department probably experienced at the beginning of their work and is known to be a draining and sometimes frustrating assignment: the supermarket mission. I set off out the office armed with an OrCam device, a couple of empty SD cards, a long lists of nearly 100 products that can be found in a supermarket, a few emphatic “good lucks” from the co-workers, and headed to the nearest large supermarket. The goal was to record the different products using the OrCam device. These recordings are needed for OrCam’s Product Recognition feature. In order for the recorded material to be useful, each product must be recorded for approximately one minute, it must be held upright in front of the face, and gently shifted left and right, backwards and forwards. So I began tackling my long list, from a particular type of toothbrush to the newest fine scented floor wax and so on…The tooth pastes and deodorants were easy enough, but after a while the products started to become bigger and heavier, once I got to the fabric softeners and huge diaper packs it began to feel more like an advanced strength exercise – and there was no end in sight! Despite my aching muscles, once I got the hang of it, the assignment wasn’t very interesting until I started to realize how odd I must look to the passing customers. These ordinary people pushing their shopping carts were strangely awaken from their own, sometimes stressful, often mind numbing, supermarket experiences by an unusual looking person constantly waving cleaning, beauty and hair products in front of her face, pointing at them and repeating these actions with almost every other item on the shelf. I found myself surrounded by awkward reactions, questions and plenty of strange looks. I was approached by an average of two people per hour, and if it isn’t obvious by now than I’ll tell you – it took quite a few hours to finish the task list. It was nice to take a break once in a while and explain about the OrCam device to my co-shoppers. Some even asked to try it out, so I gladly gave them a product or two to wave and point at. The reactions were always positive (despite some uninformed supermarket employees who demanded an explanation as to what I’m doing, and why I’m acting so strangely). Every now and again it lead to some meaningful conversations: From the supermarket manager who was so excited about the OrCam device that he invited me to coffee and biscuits in his office, to a couple of kids standing behind me observing my every move and trying to figure out why I find shampoos so interesting, to a young woman who told me about her aunt who had recently developed a sight problem and was eager to learn more about OrCam. All of my conversations and interactions with shoppers really made me think about the people who OrCam is working to help, and how my supermarket experience must be so different from theirs. Having to think about how to find a specific item in all the overwhelming variety of products these places have to offer, without the ability to read the labels, prices, special offers and signs, or even see the colors, is something I simply could not begin to understand. I’m so lucky to be a part of a company whose goal is to make it easier for these people to handle the day to day tasks like this one, which I so often take for granted. So I guess spending the day waving the New Smooth and Silky, Anti-dandruff, Extra-large, Lemon smelling shampoo isn’t that bad after all.