Amazon Echo Show Adds Barcode Scanning Feature
Amazon Echo Show smart displays can now scan barcodes of groceries and household items, automatically adding them to grocery lists. The new feature is built into the smart displays, using the camera to capture and identify the item based on the barcode.
Scanning and Shopping
To access the feature, the user asks Alexa to “scan barcodes” or “scan this to my shopping list.” The camera turns on with a marker identifying where to hold the barcode up and the item is put onto the grocery list. The barcode scan isn’t comprehensive. Sometimes Alexa can’t work out what the item is and the identification is generic, describing the item without mentioning the brand. The feature is also exclusive to the Echo Show displays, an Echo smart speaker connected to a camera can’t use scan barcodes.
The barcode scanning is convenient for people who have an Echo Show in their kitchens, but Amazon has solicited similar options before. The Dash Wand, which first came out in 2014, scanned barcodes to add to the list of Amazon Fresh customers. There’s also a barcode scanner in the Amazon app that will add the scanned item to an Amazon shopping basket.
Making it easier to make Alexa devices part of grocery shopping is smart because that’s what people want to buy using voice assistants. Multiple surveys have pegged household goods and groceries as the top choice for what people envision purchasing via a voice assistant. A quick scan with a smart display before tossing an empty bottle is a good way to make that item part of the regular voice shopping list.
Show and Tell Accessible
The barcode scanning feature seems like another permutation of Alexa’s Show and Tell feature. Designed for people with visibility impairment, Show and Tell has Alexa guide the user in placing an object in front of the camera, then tell the user what it is. Unlike the barcode scanner, Show and Tell uses the Echo Show’s own computer vision and analysis program to read labels on boxes and cans. It’s similar to Firefly, a feature on the ill-fated Amazon Fire phone that could recognize items by sight.
While the barcode scanner is universally useful, the improved accessibility it adds to the Echo Show is something Amazon will likely be happy to tout. There was an Alexa ad that aired last summer in the UK to showcase exactly that. Making it more convenient to shop through Alexa and making the voice assistant more accessible only helps Amazon with its efforts to get people to use Alexa throughout their homes.