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French supermarket chain Groupe Casino, with assistance from the Institut de la Vision, has opened a laboratory store in Paris in order to model a solution involving Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, and to learn how it could be employed at stores to improve the shopping experience for the visually impaired or elderly. By using an NFC-enabled phone, a shopper with some visual disability can tap an NFC tag on a shelf label and view much larger, clearer text than that printed on product packaging, as well as read details regarding that product, such as ingredients, nutrition details and recipes.
Assistance to the visually impaired, however, may be just the beginning for the technology and its applications for customers in Casino's stores, says Thibault de Pompery, the creative director of Groupe Casino's innovation department. Once such an NFC system is installed at the retailer's locations throughout France, anyone equipped with an NFC-enabled mobile phone could access product information, fill a shopping cart virtually, pay for products via PayPal or some other payment system, and then either have the goods delivered, or pick them up at the front of the store. What's more, he adds, a shopper could make purchases outside the store by, for example, tapping his or her phone on NFC tags embedded in a smart poster at metro stations or other locations.
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