Student Invents Talking Shopping Gadget

Former Royston school pupil to help shoppers

A former Royston school pupil is aiming to make life easier for millions with the invention of a gadget aimed at helping the elderly and visually impaired.

Ben Charles, a student at Portsmouth University who used to attend Meridian School in Royston, designed a wireless device that scans a product then displays the price in large type as well as saying it out loud. He now hopes a supermarket will buy the device.

Mr Charles, 22, said: “I wanted to design a device that makes it easier for the elderly and visually impaired to shop in supermarkets. Many of them face hurdles trying to read product information and some can’t read the price labels.”

According to his research, three quarters of the UK’s 13 million pensioners (9 and a half million people) find it difficult to read product information in supermarkets.

“I carried out lots of research and it was clear that millions find it really hard to know what they are buying and at what price,” said Ben.

The device has a tilting screen and three large buttons with Braille on them. It also features an alarm which alerts staff if help is required and a button which signifies the running total of the shopping. It also gives visual and audible warnings if a product contains common allergens.

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Mr Charles said: “I started designing things when I was six when my grandmother was having trouble opening her gate. I came up with a pulley system to make it easier – she still uses it.”

His project tutor John Bishop said: “Ben identified a problem, did market research, designed the finished article and made a prototype all to an exceptionally high standard.”

Mr Charles was awarded the university’s project prize sponsored by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and ImechE Best Student prize.