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24-year-old designs shopping cart to help people with blindness and low vision navigate stores


A 24-year-old user experience designer created a shopping cart for people with blindness and low vision. 

Anna Frederikse came up with the prototype for SONA, a reimagined shopping cart handle that assists in navigating stores using voice commands and haptic feedback systems — touch-based communication, like when a cellphone or game controller vibrates, for example. 

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The SONA is a portable handlebar that can be attached to any shopping cart. The shopping assistant allows those who are blind or have low vision to lead more independent lives, like running errands without requiring assistance. 

“Each button on the device is developed to help shoppers that are blind or have low vision to independently navigate shopping centers,” Frederikse stated. “It relies on voice commands and haptic feedback systems to direct the shopper around the store. A separate scanner is attached to the handle that will allow shoppers to scan barcodes and identify different objects.” 

The buttons include a voice-operated shopping list, locator for specific items in the store, a navigation system, a scanner for items with and without barcodes and an alert to notify staff that the customer needs assistance. 

video demo showed the SONA in use at a supermarket. It let the customer know when an obstacle was obstructing their path, told them which products were available in the aisle, which was on sale, how much it cost and it also helped the customer find the checkout lane. 

While SONA is a cool prototype right now, if ever manufactured it could do wonders in fostering independence for those in need of assistance.

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If you enjoyed reading this interview, check out In The Know’s conversation with singer Mila Jam and how she embraced her identity through a genderless shopping experience.

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