Product-origin smartphone apps could be the future of labelling

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 18th March 2010

A product-information smartphone app has taken out the top spot at February’s Greener Gadgets competition in New York. The app will allow a consumer to scan a product barcode with their phone’s camera, revealing product origin, seasonal information, food miles, pricing history and previous buying habits.

The app, known as AUG (short for Augmented Living Goods Program) will compile a directory of information on producers of fresh produce, such as meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Program members could scan a membership card, or their phone, at checkout, allowing them to track their purchases and review items.

Designed by four new graduates of the Savannah College of Art and Design, lead designer John Healy was inspired by the film Food, Inc. “It’s a really great documentary about food production and how much we really know about what we eat,” he told the US’s ABC.

Still in development, the AUG program would require the cooperation of both retailers and producers in its current form. The app’s designers believe it would benefit producers, retailers and the consumer. “The farmer will not only increase his sales, but also generate a new awareness about himself and his farm,” reads the submission to Greener Gadgets. “Along with being known as a ‘local farm friendly retailer’, grocers who sign up will be able to sell more produce faster, once the customers understand the advantages of buying local.”

With the release of Pizza Hut’s new iPhone app, following in Domino’s successful footsteps, the fast-food industry is quickly taking advantage of the potential of smartphone technology.  The possible benefits of smartphone apps in the grocery industry are as yet unexplored, with self-checkout, labelling and online ordering functionality ripe for the picking.