Assisted shopping for mobility scooters

Ahmed, Zaheer and Ahmed, Amr (2010) Assisted shopping for mobility scooters. In: RAatE 2010: Recent Advances in Assistive Technology & Engineering, 29th November 2010, University of Coventry, HDTI (Health Design & Technology Institute).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status: Live Archive


Shopping is one of the common out-of-home activities for many people. But for elderly/disabled people, searching for a particular item in large supermarkets is often time consuming. They may quickly lose confidence and become socially isolated. A navigation system inside the building would help in searching and locating desired items. But the common existing navigation systems do not usually function properly, and are not as accurate as required, in an in-door environment.

In this paper, an RFID-based navigation system is proposed to assist the elderly people in the shopping activity, as an example of out-of-home activities. The use of the proposed system is generic though, but we have designed the system to assist those people who depend on mobility scooters to go for shopping. This is due to the importance of supporting this growing elderly population to maintain more independence. This will in turn highly contribute to achieving better life-style and reduces social isolation.

The system provides a user-friendly interface to select the shopping list, or it being uploaded from smart-home appliances if available. Then, the navigation system identifies the scooter’s location and direction and calculates the appropriate routes in-between the aisles inside the shop. The shopper is then guided to the desired items according to the navigation preferences, while the route is dynamically updated on the fly whenever needed. The system was tested in a real busy superstore environment and promising results were obtained, with accuracy less than one meter distance from the desired item, which could easily be improved by adding more RFID tags.

The system’s design and setup are cheap, easy and need minimum (if any) maintenance from the supermarkets. The passive RFID tags, in the size of credit cards, don’t need any power supply or batteries. Having this system is beneficial for supermarkets as they will attract more people, especially from this category, and show that they care for them. It can also help in the shop’s marketing plans by displaying appropriate promotions when passing nearby, or based on the customer’s preferences.