Docomo develops AI-based product recognition app for foreigners

28 Sep 2018

Japan’s NTT Docomo announced it has developed a smartphone app that will enable foreigners in Japan who have special dietary restrictions to determine the detailed contents of Japanese-labeled food products simply by photographing the products with their smartphones.

The app will leverage an image-recognition engine built with NTT's corevo AI technology to identify the product and then provide the user with a detailed list of its ingredients in English.

Currently, foreigners with special dietary restrictions, such as Muslims and vegetarians, have had to use translation apps to check product labels written in Japanese and then attempt to determine if the ingredients are acceptable.

Due to the difficulty and inconvenience of this procedure, Docomo said, some foreigners visiting Japan have felt it necessary to go to the trouble of bringing products from their own countries.

With the new app, these people will be able to identify the ingredients and appropriateness of products available in Japan easily and quickly, without having to touch the products.

Docomo said the app will be especially timely as the number of inbound visitors to Japan continues to climb and unfamiliar Japanese products attract increasing attention.

The commercial launch date has not been decided yet.

Docomo, meanwhile, will provide the image-recognition and related system technologies for use in Halal Gourmet Japan, a popular restaurant-discovery app for Muslims in Japan, which is managed by Food Diversity Inc., from September 26 to December 31.

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