Persil’s capsules in plastic-free packaging and its Ultimate Liquids range will now feature a new enhanced Accessible QR (AQR) code on their packaging.
The aim is to create a more inclusive experience in-store and at home for the UK’s 2 million blind and partially sighted people.
The AQRs were created in partnership with augmented reality specialists Zappar and in collaboration with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Once accessed via smartphone, the code provides product, usage, safety and recycling information in a structured way that has been designed with blind and partially sighted users in mind.
The AQR also interacts with the device’s configured accessibility features to display information in larger text or in audio-described and voice-guided formats.
Adoptable tech offering an inclusive solution
The technology that makes the AQRs more detectable works by adding additional markings to existing QR codes.
“Although QR codes have been in mainstream use almost 30 years now, they have lacked the important ingredient of accessibility,” says Zappar CEO and co-founder Caspar Thykier. “This is really about helping make a small but important everyday quality-of-life improvement in people’s lives.”
This simple enhancement means brands can:
- integrate a layer of accessibility
- use their existing code scheme
- not take up any additional space on-pack.
First steps in making accessible product information standard
As well as driving a broader conversation on the accessibility of consumer goods, Unilever, RNIB and Zappar hope this initiative will make accessible product information a standard for packaging design.
“For us, this is bigger than Unilever, and we see it as a first step in helping make packaging more accessible for everyone,” says Unilever’s Laundry Marketing Director, Nadine Slyper.
“We’re pleased to be exploring Accessible QR codes as a business and hope to see other companies and accessibility apps join in this conversation,” she adds.
“More than 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss and by 2050 it will double to over 4 million people,” adds Mark Powell, RNIB’s Accessibility Innovation Lead. “It’s great to be collaborating with Unilever and Zappar on making packaging more accessible for blind and partially sighted people, as we should have the same freedom, independence and choice as sighted customers.”
Gathering user feedback to optimize and improve
Currently, the QR codes can be detected by accessibility app Zapvision with integration into Microsoft Seeing AI, one of the world’s leading accessibility apps.
Unilever’s ambition is to work with other accessibility apps to support wider integration of the technology and to expand its reach across different categories and countries.
As the technology is rolled out, for example, Unilever will work with Microsoft to collate user feedback from the blind and partially sighted communities to optimize the technology so that further improvements can be made.
“We’re only at the very start of this journey but we hope this simple and scalable solution will over time be adopted by more forward-thinking brands who will join this movement,” says Caspar.
“We’re delighted to have started that journey with Unilever and with the help of the RNIB, and we look forward to continuously improving the solution from this initial release.”
Bringing more brands on board
Persil’s capsules in plastic-free packaging and its Ultimate Liquid range will have the new enhanced codes on-pack by the end of March and the brand has committed to adding Accessible QR codes to its full range by end of next year.
“This is a global initiative,” adds Nadine. “We hope it will help create a more inclusive experience for all of our shoppers as we grow and learn in this space.”
As a business, Unilever plans to expand and add Accessible QR codes to additional products in the UK and globally in 2023, covering other Dirt Is Good brands such as Breeze Excel in Thailand.