WO2013191598A1 - Method for providing product-related information - Google Patents

Method for providing product-related information Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013191598A1
WO2013191598A1 PCT/SE2012/050671 SE2012050671W WO2013191598A1 WO 2013191598 A1 WO2013191598 A1 WO 2013191598A1 SE 2012050671 W SE2012050671 W SE 2012050671W WO 2013191598 A1 WO2013191598 A1 WO 2013191598A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
mobile device
product
item
products
information
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/SE2012/050671
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Henrik CARLÉN
Kent Hermansson
Original Assignee
Sca Hygiene Products Ab
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Sca Hygiene Products Ab filed Critical Sca Hygiene Products Ab
Priority to PCT/SE2012/050671 priority Critical patent/WO2013191598A1/en
Publication of WO2013191598A1 publication Critical patent/WO2013191598A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K9/00Methods or arrangements for reading or recognising printed or written characters or for recognising patterns, e.g. fingerprints
    • G06K9/00624Recognising scenes, i.e. recognition of a whole field of perception; recognising scene-specific objects
    • G06K9/00664Recognising scenes such as could be captured by a camera operated by a pedestrian or robot, including objects at substantially different ranges from the camera
    • G06K9/00671Recognising scenes such as could be captured by a camera operated by a pedestrian or robot, including objects at substantially different ranges from the camera for providing information about objects in the scene to a user, e.g. as in augmented reality applications

Abstract

The invention relates to a method for providing product-related information in a storage location (1), comprising at least the following steps, performed by a mobile device (6) comprising an image capturing device (7): storing, in said mobile device (6), information related to at least one item (14, 15) for which product-related information is desired; capturing at least one image or video sequence or live video feed representing said storage location (1) by means of said image capturing device (7): recognizing any occurrence of said item (14, 15) within said captured image or in said video sequence or live video feed; and, in the event that said item (14, 15) is recognized by said image capturing device (7), providing a notification of product- related information related to said item (14, 15).

Description

TITLE: METHOD FOR PROVIDING PRODUCT-RELATED INFORMATION TECHNICAL FIELD:

The present invention relates to a method for providing product-related information in a storage location.

BACKGROUND ART:

Today, is it common that shops such as retail markets, supermarkets and other stores sell a large variety of products and goods which are arranged and put on display on shelves forming aisles in said shops.

Large supermarkets, in particular, may offer a very large number of different products from different suppliers. For this reason, it can sometimes be very difficult for the consumer to choose and find suitable products in such a vast selection of products on display.

In particular, in some areas and for certain types of goods, it can also be difficult for a consumer in a supermarket, for example, to actually distinguish between different, but similar, products within a particular product category.

One particular field of products in which it can be particularly difficult for a consumer to actually locate a particular desired product is the field of hygiene products, especially in the form of absorbent articles. Such articles are marketed in the form of feminine hygiene products such as sanitary napkins, or alternatively baby products such as diapers, or alternatively incontinence products for both women and men. All these types of products can, at first sight, be quite similar in the way they are packaged, marketed and sold. The product names of absorbent hygiene products can also be difficult to distinguish from one another. Also, all these types of products may be positioned in generally the same area of a supermarket, for example.

In summary, a consumer of absorbent products may be faced with a vast range of manufacturers and types of products. All these products may come in similarly designed packages and with similar product names, which can be confusing for the consumer.

Consequently, the assortment of products within this field may appear to be complicated and difficult to comprehend for the customer. Also, absorbent hygiene products may sometimes also suffer from "poor shelf placement", which means that they may be placed on shelves (in a shop or supermarket) which are not easy to find, or that they may be placed in position in which they will not get the customer's immediate attention.

In summary, it is understood that it is difficult for the consumer to understand and grasp the whole range of hygiene products being on the market today. Sometimes, a consumer who comes into a supermarket may know exactly which product to choose, but more often the customer only knows which type of product which is of interest (for example, the customer comes into a supermarket thinking "I need baby diapers", or "I want to buy a product being of the brand X" etc), and needs assistance for choosing a specific suitable product. Consequently, some customers only know that they are interested in a certain category of products, or products from a particular

manufacturer (or products based on some other criteria), but does not know which specific product to choose.

The patent document US 2012/0023034 teaches a system for locating merchandise in a store. The document teaches that the products in the store are provided with location indicators which allows the customers in the store to find the desired products by accessing a database in which information regarding the location of the products are stored. The system may also provide other product-related information.

There is a need for improved systems and methods which are easy to use and which give clear and useful information for assisting a customer in selecting items such as products in a supermarket or similar storage location. In particular, there is a need for today's customers to find guidance regarding suitable products within a particular product type or from a particular producer. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION:

Consequently, it is an object of the present invention to solve the above-mentioned problem and provide a method which can be used to assist a customer in order to receive product-related information which is associated with that particular product in a storage location, for example a supermarket, a warehouse or similar, and also to be supplied with suitable information regarding other products which can be available of a particular type or from a certain producer. More precisely, it is an object of the invention to provide a method by means of which a consumer can be assisted in finding suitable alternatives to a particular desired product or product type.

In particular, it is an object of the present invention to provide a method and device which are easy to use and which can give a user clear information on a mobile device regarding suitable alternative products. Preferably, the actual location of said alternative product or products in said storage location are also presented to the user.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a method that facilitates, for users of a product, such as an absorbent hygiene product, to retrieve product-related information and optionally also finding the location of said product.

These and other objects are achieved by a method for providing product-related information in a storage location, comprising at least the following steps, performed by a mobile device comprising an image capturing device: storing, in said mobile device, information related to at least one item for which product-related information is desired; capturing at least one image or video sequence or live video feed representing said storage location by means of said image capturing device:

recognizing any occurrence of said item within said captured image or in said video sequence or live video feed; and, in the event that said item is recognized by said image capturing device, providing a notification of product-related information related to said item.

The present invention offers an advantage in that a customer may obtain information regarding which products are suitable for the user's particular needs. The invention also provides information to a customer regarding the range of products within a particular category of products.

The invention relies on the insight that a mobile device, provided with an image capturing device such as a conventional camera provided on a mobile device (for example a mobile telephone) could be used to scan at least a certain section of the storage space in order to capture an image or a video sequence of a storage location in which it is believed that products of a particular catogory or type are located. Furthermore, the mobile device contains suitable software for recognizing whether the product of potential interest to the user is located within the field of scan of the camera. This can be obtained through the use of image analysis of the captured image or video sequence, wherein the graphical representation of the product can be detected and identified by the software. If any product is identifed, the software will preferably indicate this immediately to the user of the mobile device, by including suitable information on the display of the mobile device.

The software in the mobile device will be arranged so as to indicate to the user of the mobile device a certain number of alternative products, i.e. relevant alternatives which match the user's desired product type. The alternative product or products can be indicated based on certain criteria; for example, the alternatives presented can be products of the same product type but from another manufacturer (which can be the case in the field of hygiene products such as for example diapers or sanitary napkins), or can be a product from a particular manufacturer, or can be products from a certain price range as the originally desired product.

The notification of the existence of a product can be followed by an indication of the actual location of the product within the storage location, that is, if the product is actually in stock and exists within the storage location. It should be noted that the captured image or images as mentioned above could be in the form of one or more single images, a recorded video sequence or a live video feed, i.e. a live streaming video sequence.

Due to the fact that a mobile device can be used to present information related to alternative products, the user may obtain such information in order to select a suitable product. Such information can reflect for example the properties, price or quality of the product. Such product-related information can be provided by visual, aural, tactile or otherwise physical means, or any combination of such means, on the mobile device, and/or a communication device to which the mobile device is communicatively connectable, e.g. another mobile device.

The use of a mobile device comprising an image capturing device, such as a mobile phone, a so-called smartphone, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a tablet computer or the like, or a wearable device such as a pair of glasses, makes the method readily available to anyone in possession of such a mobile device.

The method is performed by the mobile device through execution of a computer program, which, in a preferred embodiment, is realised in form of an application program (hereinafter referred to as an "App", or "application", which consequently is used here to describe a piece of software designed to help a user of a mobile device to carry out specific tasks). The App is suitably arranged to be downloadable to a storage medium of the mobile device.

By allowing the method to be performed through the execution of an App that may be downloaded into existing mobile devices, the method becomes readily available to any user. In order to perform the method, the mobile device is suitably positioned by a user in a position where it can be used for scanning at least a section of a storage location in which a product of potential interest can be expected to be located. Preferably, the image capturing device is a camera which is sensitive enough to register images of relatively high resolution. The results of the image capturing step may be more reliable if a high-resolution camera is used and also if the mobile device is held steadily at a suitable distance to the used absorbent product.

In summary, this means that a clear indication regarding the location, and optionally also the properties, of alternative products can be provided to the user via the mobile device's graphical user interface during the actual scanning of the storage space, and, in case such a desired product is not found, certain alternative products will be proposed to the user. Optionally, the location of such alternative products can also be indicated to the user, in the event that such alternative are available in the storage location.

Furthermore, the invention suitably makes use of a light source which for this purpose is integrated within the mobile device. Such is the case of conventional mobile telephones, which use a light source used for photographing where natural light conditions are insufficient. Consequently, the invention suitably comprises a step of illuminating the storage location with an integrated light source of the mobile device during the image capturing stage. Alternatively, the invention could be used for capturing images with the aid of a separate light source, i.e. it does not have to be an integrated part of the mobile device.

The image capturing can be carried out in at least two ways; the image capturing device can be used either for capturing one single image of a product; or the image capturing device can be used for obtaining a video, or multiple-image, sequence of images while scanning, or swiping, the mobile device along the storage location. Both these types of methods enable the user to input image information into the software of the mobile device in order to allow a processor of the mobile device to determine where products are located.

As indicated above, the method may be a computer-implemented method performed by a mobile device through execution of a computer program. Thus, according to another aspect of the invention there is provided a computer program for assisting in locating at least one item in a storage location. When executed by a microprocessor, the computer program is configured to perform a method as described above. The invention also provides a computer program product comprising a non-volatile memory for storing computer-readable instructions, wherein the above mentioned computer program is encoded on said non-volatile memory.

Furthermore, the invention relates to a mobile device for providing product-related information in a storage location, which mobile device comprises an image capturing device, a processor and a storage medium for storing computer programs executable by said processor. Also, the storage medium stores the above mentioned computer program.

The products which the user may be interested in, for example items which a user of the invention can be expected to search for in the storage location (for example a supermarket) are suitably included in a database which also includes data related to one or more products which can be regarded as alternative products.

It should be noted that the invention is for example suitable to be used in connection with products in the form of hygiene products such as absorbent products as mentioned above. Such absorbent products can be any form of absorbent personal hygiene article, such as a male or female incontinence protector, a sanitary pad, a panty liner or a diaper, for example a diaper with tape fastener, a pant diaper or a belted diaper. Said hygiene products can also be constituted by lotions, wipes or towels, for example paper towels for hygiene use. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS:

The invention will now be described below with reference to an embodiment and the appended drawings, in which: Fig. 1 illustrates a storage location which is of the type which can be found in a supermarket or a similar environment, wherein a user of the present invention is located; Fig. 2 illustrates a mobile device and the storage location regarded from another angle as compared with Fig. 1 and showing the method according to the invention; Fig. 3 shows a mobile device in use for assisting in providing product-related information;

Fig. 4 shows a mobile device while scanning a storage location; Fig. 5 shows a mobile device providing product-related information; and

Fig. 6 shows a mobile device being used in accordance with the principles of the invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS:

Fig. 1 illustrates a storage location 1 for a number of diffent products, such as a space which is to be found in a supermarket, a warehouse, a shop, a library or a similar type of environment. The storage location 1 comprises a number of storage devices 2 which according to the embodiment is based on a number of shelves 3 on which a number of items in the form of marketed products 4 are located.

Also, Fig. 1 shows a user 5 of the present invention, i.e. a person who is equipped with a mobile device 6. As will be explained in detail below, the mobile device 6 is arranged so as to be able to execute the present invention. The mobile device 6 shown in Fig. 1 is in the form of a so-called tablet computer, but it should be appreciated that any type of mobile device, such as a mobile phone, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a so-called smartphone or similar may be used to perform the invention. The mobile device 6 can alternatively also be in the form of a wearable article such as a pair of glasses.

The mobile device 6 comprises an integrated image capturing device 7 for capturing images and video recordings, to be subsequently stored in the mobile device 6. It should be noted here that the invention is not limited to a method in which the information regarding said images and video recordings are stored in the mobile device 6 only, but can also be implemented in a manner in which the captured images and video sequences are transmitted to a remote computer (not shown in the drawings) for further analysis remote from the mobile device 6 and the user 5. Such transmission of captured images and video sequences can for example be carried out via a local area network or via the Internet.

The image capturing devices 7 as mentioned above is generally known as such and typically comprises an image sensor and a lens (not shown) which are used for example in mobile telephones and tablet computers for capturing photographic images and video sequences.

Although not shown in detail in the drawings, the mobile device 6 comprises a processor for processing data. The data may be received from communication devices to which the mobile device 6 is communicatively connectable via a network, or stored on a digital storage medium of the mobile device, which storage medium is accessible by said processor.

Consequently, the mobile device 6 carries a computer program which is stored in the storage medium and, when executed by the processor, causes the mobile device 6 to perform the method according to the invention, as will be described below.

Fig. 2 shows a mobile device 6 as regarded from a different angle, i.e. an angle as seen from the perspective of the user 5 when facing a set of shelves 3 in the storage location 1 . As indicated in Fig. 2, the mobile device 6 according to the embodiment comprises a display 8 for displaying information to the user 5, and, if realised in form of a so-called touch display, also for receiving information from the user 5 in the form of user input. The mobile device 6 may also comprise other means for receiving user input, such as buttons, microphones, as well as means for outputting signals and information, such as for example a loudspeaker, a vibratory device etc. Such additional devices are generally known and for this reason they are not explained in detail here. Consequently, according to the embodiment, the display 8 constitutes a user interface for inputting information and instructions from the user 5. As will be explained below, the display 8 preferably also constitutes a means for displaying visual information relating to the location of a desired product or other relevant information regarding the product, such as its price, properties or size.

The mobile device 6 is operable to perform all method steps of the inventive method, which method steps will be described in more detail below, through execution of a computer program stored in the storage medium. Generally, it should be noted that the invention is based on providing product-related information to the user 5 when the user 5 enters the storage location 1 without having determined which specific product or products to choose and buy. Instead, in the current situation it can be expected that the user 5 has an intention of buying a certain type of product ("I want to buy baby diapers") or an intention of buying a product from a particular

manufacturer. It is of course possibly that the user 5 enters the storage location 1 with other criteria for which products to choose, for example the price, usage, size or colour of the products in question.

Preferably, the computer program being used in the mobile device 6 is realised in form of a stand-alone application, meaning that no data has to be received from external devices in order to run the program. However, the computer program may also be a client application of a distributed software solution further comprising a server-side application residing in an application server to which the mobile device is communicatively connectable. In this case, some of the method steps described below may be performed by the application server through execution of the server- side application.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the computer program stored on the mobile device 6 is realised in form of an App (or "application program") which is downloadable into the storage medium from a downloading server to which the mobile device 6 is connectable. The App is preferably adapted to the Apple iOS platform and/or the Android platform and distributed through known distribution channels. It should thus be appreciated that the "App" hereinafter refers to a computer program stored on the storage medium of the mobile device 6. As indicated in a simplified form in Fig. 3a, the App can be executed by means of a suitable user input, for example in the form of a particular icon 9 on the display 8 which the user touches and which in this embodiment corresponds to a "start button" for the App.

Furthermore, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention, the App comprises displaying a number of further user input icons such a first series of icons in the form of product icons 10 which are used in order for the user 5 to select which product types the user 5 is interested. Consequently, each one of the icons 10 may corresponding to a particular product type, such as for example "diapers",

"incontinence pads", "wipes and towels" etc. By selecting a particular product type the user 5 expects to find in the storage location 1 , the user 5 enters information in the mobile device 6 which can subsequently be used for providing product-related information, as will be described further below.

The icons 10 representing items A, B and C can be said to represent particular product categories, as explained above. The mobile device 6 can furthermore be arranged for allowing the user 5 to select an item based on at least one further criterion, such as for example a manufacturer of products. For this reason, the App according to the invention can be arranged to present a second series of icons 1 1 on the display 8 corresponding to said further criterion. As indicated in Fig. 3a, the user 5 may then select between different items representing different manufacturers, each of which correspond to the icons marked D, E and F.

Furthermore, and as also indicated in Fig. 3a, the user may also enter information based on a text or key words being entered into the mobile device 6. This is indicated schematically in Fig. 3a by means of a text field 12 in which the user may enter such text or key words (for example "diapers").

Additionally, the mobile device 6 can be arranged so as to store a shopping list, i.e. a list of types of products that the user 5 has entered in the mobile device 6 before coming to the storage location 1 . Such a shopping list can for example be in the form of a number of products types, for example: "milk, butter, bread, diapers", and can be stored beforehand in the mobile device 6, suitably via a further (not described) application program. The present invention may use such a shopping list for providing product-related information to the user 6 through the use of a further icon 13, marked "SL" in Fig. 3a. Consequently, by tapping on the shopping list icon 13, the user 5 instructs the mobile device 6 to use the product types in the stored shopping list during the subsequent step of providing product-related information, as will be described in greater detail below.

In accordance with the embodiment, the App in the mobile device 6 is initiated, with the purpose of providing product-related information to the user 5, when the user 5 touches the "start" icon 9 shown in Fig. 3a. When this occurs, the App will enter a mode in which the image capturing device (not visible from the view in Fig. 3a) starts capturing a series of images, suitably in the form of a video sequence, displaying at least a part of the storage space 1 . With reference to Fig. 4, the display 8 of the mobile device 6 is then showing a corresponding picture, suitably in the form of a live feed of said video sequence, of the storage location 1 .

Preferably, the image capturing device 7 is in the form of a camera and is positioned on the rear side of the mobile device 6. However, the invention is not limited to such placement only, i.e. the image capturing device 7 could for example be placed on the top surface or along the side edge of the mobile device 1 .

As indicated in a simplified manner in Fig. 2, the image capturing device is arranged for capturing the pictures or video sequence within a particular image capturing angle 7a.

At this stage, the user 5 may use the mobile device 6 to sweep along the storage location 1 as if to scan said storage location 1 for products of the type selected by using the icons 10, 1 1 (see Fig. 3) or based on input via the text field 12 or based on the stored shopping list 13. In other words, the user 5 will direct the mobile device 6 towards a position on a shelf 3 or in a section of the storage location 1 where a product of the type sought by the user 5 can be expected to be found. In Fig. 4, such a desired product is indicated by means of reference numeral 14. Purely as an example, it can be assumed that the product 14 is a diaper of a particular size ("size A") and from a particular manufacturer ("manufacturer X"). Furthermore, this product 14 is provided with a particular recognition graphic 14b which can be recognized by means of image processing software in the mobile device 6. A further product of the same type (i.e. diapers) is indicated by means of reference numeral 15. It can be assumed that this diaper is of a larger size than the diaper 14 ("size B") and that it is manufactured by another manufacturer ("manufacturer Y").

In accordance with the embodiment, and in order to provide product-related information according to the invention, the mobile device 6 is arranged for capturing and analyzing the pictures or video sequences through image recognition, according to principles which are well known to the skilled person and which for this reason are not described in detail here.

In accordance with the embodiment, the mobile device 6 is particularly adapted for recognizing a graphic representation of the products 14, 15. The recognition graphics for the products 14, 15 are indicated schematically in Fig. 4 by means of reference numeral 14b and 15b, respectively. Such recognition can be based on an image analysis of the design of the product packaging, wholly or in part, with regard to its shape, design, colour, pattern or particular features printed or otherwise applied to the product packaging. The mobile device 6 can be adapted to recognize the entire product 14, 15 or a part thereof. Consequently, a particular part, shape, marking or design of the products 14, 15 - which can be referred to as a recognition graphic - can be detected, analyzed and recognized by means of the mobile device 6. The App according to the invention is consequently arranged for image recognition of such type that the recognition graphic 14b, 15b of the products 14, 15 are recognized and when this occurs, the mobile device 6 is arranged for checking whether the products 14, 15 match the selection criteria of the user 5, i.e. in this particular case the mobile device 6 checks whether the "found" products 14, 15 are in fact of the type which the user 5 has indicated via the icons 10, 1 1 or via the text field 12 or shopping list 13. Assuming that the user has tapped on an icon representing "diapers", the mobile device 6 will indicate that both the products 14, 15 are diapers. Furthermore, product-related information are indicated regarding these products. With reference to the description above and Fig. 5, the mobile device may for example indicate on the display:

- Product, alternative 1 : diaper; size A, manufacturer X

- Product, alternative 2; diaper; size B, manufacturer Y

This information is indicated schematically in Fig. 5. By displaying such product- related information on the display 8, the mobile device 6 can be used for assisting the user 5 in finding and selecting suitable products based on the user's own personal taste and need.

Furthermore, an image or suitable graphical representation of the products 14, 15 is shown on the display 8 in a manner so that the user can easily distinguish them from other products shown on the display 8. For example, the software in the mobile device 6 can be arranged so that the products 14, 15 are shown having its outline or contour shown in a suitable colour, for example red. In this manner, the products 14, 15 in question can be easily detected on the display 8. This is shown in Fig. 6. The graphical representation of the products 14, 15 is suitably shown superimposed onto the displayed image or video sequence on said display 8, in a position corresponding to the photographic image or video sequence of the products 14, 15.

It should be noted that information regarding the exact position of the products 14, 15 is not required, just information regarding the location of the products 14, 15 in relation to the mobile device 6.

The information relating to product-related information, or the location, of the products 14, 15 can also be in the form of aural information such as for example sound effects or spoken messages or in the form of tactile or some other type of information indicated by physical means such as vibrations, or a combination of visual, aural, tactile or other physical information. In such case, said product-related information can be constituted by information related to the price, contents, properties or handling of the product 13. The invention is not limited to the above-mentioned image recognition only, but can be realized in alternative ways, for example through the use of NFC (Near Field Recognition) tags, transponders, QR codes or other devices or markings which allow the mobile device 6 with its image capturing device 7 to determine the location of the product 13 in question and to present information related to said location to a user 5.

The information presented to the user 5 can also be constituted by information not relating to the actual products 14, 15 but to some other related factors, such as information regarding ongoing sales or information regarding similar products.

The alternative products 14, 15 can be determined to be "alternatives" to each other based on one or more criteria. For example, they could be selected as alternatives based on the fact that they belong to the same type of products, that they are priced in generally the same price range as the originally desired product or that they originate from the same producer as the originally desired product. Other criteria are also possible within the scope of the invention.

Furthermore, there is suitably provided a database (not shown in the drawings) which contains data related to the products in question, i.e. an item which a user of the invention can be expected to search for in the storage location. Such a database can be maintained at a central location by a company being responsible for the storage location. Said database preferably also contains data related to products which - based on one or more suitable criteria - can be regarded as alternative products, i.e. alternatives to the desired product. If the mobile device 6 is used to find a desired product, as described above, but does not find it, said mobile device 6 is suitably connected to said database in order to retrieve information related to one or more alternative products.

A database of the above-mentioned type is arranged to be updated at a regular interval with information related to products which in this context are desired products or alternative products, for example as regards the price, features or design of the products. In this manner, the mobile device has access to relevant, updated information which forms the basis of the selection of alternative products according to the above-mentioned description. If the products 14, 15 are positioned within the field of view of the mobile device 6, they are indicated in some particular manner so that the user can easily distinguish them from other products shown on the display 8. For example, the software in the mobile device 6 can be arranged so that the alternative products 14, 15 are shown having their outline or contour shown in a suitable colour, for example green. (This is not shown in the drawings.) In this manner, the alternative products 14, 15 can be easily detected on the display 8. The graphical representation of the alternative products 14, 15 is suitably shown superimposed onto the displayed image or video sequence on said display 8, in a position corresponding to the photographic image or video sequence of the alternative products 14, 15.

The description with reference to Fig. 4 refers to a situation in which the alternative products 14, 15 are actually located in the storage location and can be recognized by the mobile device 6. The invention can also be used in a situation in which the software in the mobile device 6 proposes certain alternative product which however are not available in the storage location in question. In such case, the mobile device 6 is arranged for showing certain data or information regarding alternative products which are available to the user but which are not available for the moment in the storage location, or which are not positioned within the field of view of the image capturing device of the mobile device 6.

This means that the invention can be used in situation when the location of the alternative products is indicated and also in a situation in which the alternative products are described even though they are not available for the moment in the storage location in question.

As mentioned above, the alternative products 14, 15 can be determined to be

"alternatives" to an originally desired product 13 based on certain predetermined criteria. In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, the user may select which criteria are to be used in order to determine which product or products are to be termed as "alternative products". For example, the user may input information (suitably by tapping on a corresponding icon on the display 8; not shown in the drawings) instructing the mobile device 6 to use "product price" as a decisive criterion. According to another example, the user may select "manufacturer" as the decisive criterion. This means that the mobile device will present one or more alternative products (of the same product type) which are from the same

manufacturer as the originally desired product. Generally, it can be noted that the user may select one or several criteria which are decisive for determining which products are to be selected as being "alternatives".

Furthermore, as mentioned, the mobile device 6 can be provided with a set of information in the form of a "shopping list", i.e. a number of desired products which the user 5 wishes to purchase. When the user 5 uses the mobile device 6 to scan the storage location 1 in the supermarket, the mobile device will 6 recognize and show on the display 8 any item from such a shopping list. In this case, the mobile device 6 is arranged for finding more than one product simultaneously and for providing product-related information associated with the found products.

Furthermore, the mobile device 1 preferably comprises a light source (not shown in the drawings) which can be a conventional flash-type light device as used in many of today's mobile devices such as mobile telephones. The light source is arranged for generating a field of light (not shown in the drawings) directed from the mobile device 6. Alternatively, the invention could be used with a separate light source or with natural ambient light only, if the light conditions are sufficient.

Furthermore, and although not shown in the drawings, it should be noted that the mobile device could be in the form of an autonomous vehicle or similar carrier of an image capturing device. Such an autonomous carrier could be programmed to follow a path within a storage location while capturing images (i.e. one or more single images, a video sequence or a live video feed). These images could then be used in accordance with the principles of this invention in order to assist in locating an item within said storage location.

The invention is particularly suitable for absorbent products but is not limited to such products only, but can be used generally for all sorts of merchandise and goods as long as they are positioned in the storage space 1 and can be captured by the image capturing device 7. In case that the product is a hygiene product, the invention can be used with all types of hygiene products such as absorbent products in the form of male or female incontinence pad, a sanitary pad or a diaper, for example a diaper with tape fastener, a pant diaper or a belted diaper. The invention can also be used with other types of hygiene products such as lotion, wipes or towels.

The invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but can be varied within the scope of the subsequent claims.

For example, the mobile device 6 may use an built-in accelerometer, gyro or gyroscope device (not shown) in order to sense the acceleration or orientation of the mobile device 6. Such a device can be used for inputting commands from the user 5. For example, the user 5 can then initiate a search for a desired product 13 (instead of tapping on the "start" icon 9 mentioned above) by shaking the mobile device 6. An accelerometer or gyroscope is then used to detect this shaking movement in order to trigger the start of the image capturing process according to the embodiment.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, the mobile device is suitably in the form of a tablet computer, a mobile phone or the like, but could alternatively be constituted by an autonomous mobile device carrying an image capturing device and being arranged for scanning the storage location in order to locate one or more desired items in said storage location. Furthermore, it is not necessary to analyze the contents of the captured image or video sequence at the same time that the image or video sequence is actually shown on the display. For example, the captured images can be transferred to a remote computer and be analyzed at a suitable point in time. Also, the software in the mobile device is suitably regularly updated, for example through contact with a central server, with information related to suitable alternatives to certain products.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1 . A method for providing product-related information in a storage location (1 ), comprising at least the following steps, performed by a mobile device (6) comprising an image capturing device (7):
- storing, in said mobile device (6), information related to at least one item (14, 15) for which product-related information is desired;
- capturing at least one image or video sequence or live video feed
representing said storage location (1 ) by means of said image capturing device (7):
- recognizing any occurrence of said item (14, 15) within said captured image or in said video sequence or live video feed; and,
- in the event that said item (14, 15) is recognized by said image capturing device (7), providing a notification of product-related information related to said item (14, 15).
2. A method according to claim 1 , wherein said product-related information is constituted by information relating to at least one type of information such as the price, its manufacturer, product type, usage, size, colour, features or similar criteria.
3. A method according to claim 1 or 2, wherein said product-related information is indicated on a display (8) forming part of said mobile device (6).
4. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the information based on which said item (14, 15) is recognized relates to at least one criteria such as its price, its manufacturer, product type, usage, size, colour, features or similar criteria.
5. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the step of providing a notification is associated with providing information relating to the location of said item (14, 15) in said storage location (1 ).
6. A method according to claim 5, comprising displaying said image or video sequence or live video feed on said display (8); and superimposing a graphical representation of said information related to the location of said item (14, 15) onto the displayed image or video sequence on said display (8).
7. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said step of providing a notification of at least one item (14, 15) comprises presenting a list of alternative items and allowing the user to select between the items in the list for obtaining product-related information of said alternative items.
8. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising receiving input information from said user (5).
9. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the step of recognition in the mobile device (1 ) is carried out by identifying an item (14, 15) in the field of view (7a) of the image capturing device (7), and through the use of a recognition graphic (14a, 15a) in the form of a design, print, marking, code or similar applied to the item (14, 15) or its packaging.
10. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising the step of illuminating at least a part of the storage location (1 ) in which the item (14, 15) is expected to be located with a light source.
1 1 . A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said step of recognizing any occurrence of said item (13) is combined with an output signal of aural, tactile, vibratory or other physical type.
12. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the item (14, 15) is a hygiene article, such as a male or female incontinence protector, a sanitary pad, a diaper with tape fastener, a pant diaper or a belted diaper; a lotion, wipe or towel.
13. A computer program for assisting in providing product-related information in a storage location (1 ), characterized in that the computer program, when executed by a processor of a mobile device (6) comprising an image capturing device (7), causes the mobile device (7) to perform the method according to any of the previous claims.
14. A mobile device (6) for assisting providing product-related information in a storage location (1 ), the mobile device (6) comprising an an image capturing device (7), a processor, and a storage medium for storing computer programs executable by said processor, characterized in that the storage medium stores a computer program according to claim 1 3.
15. A mobile device according to claim 14, characterized in that it is constituted by a tablet computer, a mobile phone, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a smartphone, a wearable mobile device or similar.
PCT/SE2012/050671 2012-06-18 2012-06-18 Method for providing product-related information WO2013191598A1 (en)

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