Interactive product labels require new regulations
27. March 2020 | News, Retail Technology, Visions of Retail

Artificial intelligence will be increasingly used on labels on food and other products in the future to make them interactive, and regulations should be reformed now so they take account of new innovations, a study warns.

Thanks to the increased use of smartphones, smart-watches and other interconnected products, labelling on foods and other goods may become more personalized and thus more helpful, addressing consumer concerns, such as nut allergies.

Facial recognition technology can be used by shops and manufacturers to collect data on the specific needs of consumers, as well as to prompt shop staff to offer assistance or enable features such as large print on labels, if necessary.

The study says AI technology could play a significant role in making labelling more comprehensive and personalized, but regulators across Europe must ensure the technology is also used for public good and to help consumers. Changes are especially needed because AI is currently mainly being used to collect data about customers, or to help manufacturing or distribution.

The changes should include the introduction of more specific rules about the design and content of consumer product labels in order to prevent producers from manipulating consumers’ product and safety expectations by using AI. The EU Product Liability Directive is being reviewed and it is hoped the research, published in the European Journal of Risk Regulation, can contribute to this work.

The technology could benefit consumers as, for example, they could store the information on their allergies on a smartwatch, which information would then be picked up by interconnected, store devices. As a result, ingredients to which consumers are allergic could be highlighted on the labels of products when consumers near them. Dr Joasia Luzak, from the University of Exeter Law School, who carried out the research, said: “Consumers will likely pay more attention to personalized labelling. The use of modern technologies to personalize product labelling could be in the interests of both producers and consumers. Producers could gain more insights into their supply chain and more control over their products, as well as reaching more consumers with their product information.”

Source: University of Exeter

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