My Supermarket Experience

2014-08-12 | By Orcam Staff

share facebook share twitter share linkedIn share whatsApp
My Supermarket Experience with OrCam's new technology for the blind

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 – all I knew is that I had to test new technology for the blind.


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. It is known to be a draining and sometimes frustrating assignment: the supermarket mission.


I set off out of the office armed with an OrCam, a couple of SD cards, a list of nearly 100 products that can be found in a supermarket, and a few “good-lucks” from the co-workers, and headed to the nearest supermarket. The goal was to record the different products using the OrCam device. These recordings are needed for OrCam’s new technology for the blind.

OrCam’s new technology for the blind

In order for the recorded material to be useful, each product was recorded for approximately one minute, it must be held upright in front of the face, and gently shifted left and right, backward and forwards. So I began tackling my long list. The toothpaste 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 a strength exercise.


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 awakened from their own, supermarket experiences by an unusual-looking person. I probably looked very strange – constantly waving cleaning, beauty, and hair products, pointing at them, and repeating these actions with almost every other item on the shelf.

The reactions were always positive

I found myself surrounded by awkward reactions, questions, and plenty of strange looks. An average of two people per hour approached me. It was nice to take a break once in a while and explain about OrCam’s new technology for the blind to 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. Every now and again it leads 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. There was even a young woman who told me about her aunt who had recently developed a sight problem and was eager to learn more about OrCam new technology for the blind.


All of my conversations and interactions with shoppers really made me think about the people who OrCam is working to help. 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 day-to-day tasks.


So I guess spending the day waving the Smooth and Silky, Anti-dandruff, Lemon smelling shampoo isn’t that bad after all.