CompetitiveAnalysis-ArpadKovacs

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Contents

1 Sentence Application Summary

My group's mobile application is a barcode scanner which warns the user when a grocery store purchase contains ingredients that may trigger the user's allergies (or conflicts with other specified dietary restrictions).

Group Brainstorm

List of Similar Applications

  1. NoPeanut http://allergycompanion.com/wordpress/?page_id=4
  2. Food Additives http://webartisan.com.au/apps/index.php/iphone-apps/food-additives
  3. Don't Eat That http://donteatthat.org/
  4. Is That Gluten Free? http://glutenfreepost.com/?p=1462
  5. Allergy Guard http://www.covertapps.com/allergyguard
  6. iCanEatOnTheGo http://www.allergyfreepassport.com/apps/iCanEatOnTheGo.html
  7. Safe2EatTB http://www.appstorehq.com/safe2eattb-foodallergy-iphone-67018/app
  8. Gluten-Free Groceries http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gluten-free-groceries-by-triumph/id346254603?mt=8
  9. Foodditive http://www.foodditive.com/iphone
  10. GlutenScan http://www.glutenscan.com/

Detailed Analysis

1. NoPeanut

The target group of No Peanut consists of people with allergic reactions to peanuts who want to make purchases at a North American restaurant chain location. This is a subset of all people with allergies, and beyond the scope of our project (which focuses on grocery items), since restaurants usually do not identify their offerings with scannable barcodes. The application identifies restaurants that do not serve products containing peanuts, as well as lists of foods to avoid at more than 50 popular restaurant chains, allowing users to make better informed purchases. The application also provides multilingual warning and emergency help cards so that restaurant staff can assist in the prevention and resolution of allergic reactions to peanuts. Unlike this menu-drive product, our application will be completely automated; the user only needs to scan the barcode, and the results should show up instantaneously. Our application will also allow users to customize their dietary preferences, rather than checking for a single class of ingredient.


2. Food Additives

This application caters to all people who are worried about their intake of any potentially harmful additives, which is slightly broader than our own TUG (people who want to avoid the specific allergens). The application features an offline database in which users can sort and lookup over 450 ingredients by name, International Numbering System identifier, level of risk, symptom, and diet. Once an additive has been selected, the application displays detailed information such as the additive's origin, regulatory details, side effects, and food products associated with the additive. I believe that my group's product-driven approach is superior to this application's ingredient-driven approach, since ultimately the user wants to find out if the product as a whole is safe to purchase, rather than having to look up whether each ingredient contained in the product is harmful. Furthermore, my group's application will have the option to pull results from the internet, which will result in more up-to-date results and allows covering a wider range of products and ingredients.


3. Don't Eat That

Don't Eat That targets a more general audience of consumers that want to be informed about a wide range of harmful additives, rather than just specific allergens. This application serves as a translator for ingredients labels, by allowing users to look up detailed information about specific ingredients based on FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) data sources. This application only focuses on ingredients, there is no link between specific products and their constituent ingredients. Therefore looking up each unknown ingredient in a product would be a very time-consuming and tedious task compared to the automated product barcode-based approach used by my system. My group's app also has the advantage of dynamically updating new data, as described in the previous point.


4. Is That Gluten Free?

This app's TUG consists of celiacs (people who show allergic reactions to gluten) who want to check whether certain products or ingredients contain gluten. This TUG is more constrained than our own, since it does not take dietary restrictions besides gluten into account. A user can browse the entire collection of items by category or brand, or search for a particular product or ingredient. Upon looking up a brand or product, the application will show whether the product was validated as gluten-free, a company statement, and a link to the company's website. A search for a specific ingredient marks the presence or absence of gluten using 3 choices: safe, unsafe, possibly unsafe. This application lacks the automated barcode scanning functionality of our own proposed application. It is also limited to indicating the absence or presence of only gluten, while our app will cover a wider range of allergens.


5. Allergy Guard / Picky Eater

Allergy Guard's TUG consists of members of cookingallergyfree.com, who are allergic to at least one of the 150 categories of allergens listed on the website. This is a subset of our own target group, since our application will be open to non-members as well. The application describes the ingredients and allergen risk of generic product categories (eg 'chocolate'), rather than specific physical products (eg Hershey's Milk Chocolate). Users can select a product category, and refine the results in submenus in order to find associated ingredients and similar allergens. This approach appears to be less accurate than our solution, since manufacturers may alter their offering from the generic formula in order to differentiate their products. Furthermore, this application is too general to warn a user if a particular manufacturer produced the product in a facility that processes allergens, while our application would lookup specific products for allergen risk. Finally, it seems that manually searching for a category, and then iteratively refining it would be slow and tedious compared to our application's instant barcode-scanning functionality.


6. iCanEatOnTheGo

iCanEatOnTheGo is aimed at fast food restaurant customers who are sensitive to any combination of 9 common allergens (eggs, fish, gluten, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts or wheat). The application's focus on fast food differentiates it from our proposal which is targeted at grocery shoppers The starting screen of the app displays the logos of 15 fast food restaurants from which the user must choose, and then invites the user to specify his/her allergens of interest. The application then generates a color-coded menu to identify allergen-containing entries. iCanEatOnTheGo would not be applicable to the grocery store environment of our application, since its database only contains fast food items. In contrast, our application does not constrain the user to specific stores, since we look up barcodes which are universal across all stores.


7. Safe2EatTB

Safe2Eat's target audience is significantly smaller and more distinct than our own since it is limited to customers of Taco Bell who demand information about allergen risks. The application displays items available from the menu items in a list, and upon selection of an item returns whether the item is safe to eat for people who experience allergic reactions to nut, lactose, soy, and wheat products. Although this menu-driven approach may work for fast-food restaurants with a selection of a few-dozen items, the barcode-reading/search is essential for a grocery-store environment that my group's application will operate in, due to the infeasibilty of scrolling through literally thousands of different products. In addition, this app does not allow customization of any kind, and has rather limited application due to its exclusive focus on Taco Bell.


8. Gluten-Free Groceries

Here is another application that narrowly focuses on gluten-sensitive users while excluding other allergens covered by our broader TUG application. An interesting feature is that the app describes which companies have dedicated facilities for processing allergen-free products, and thus warns about cross-contamination. It also allows search not only by product brand, but also by distribution channel (eg store brand). Otherwise it is very similar to #4, and comes with the same shortcomings (no automated barcode scanning functionality, covers only gluten instead of a wider range of allergens) when compared to our project.


9. Foodditive

Foodditive is targeted at people who want to access the foodditive.com additive database from a mobile device, presumably while shopping for groceries. The application caters to a wider audience than our application, since it offers religious and ideology-based dietary preference filters such as Kosher and Vegan as well as Gluten, compared to the more narrow allergen-based filters we are proposing. As a front-end for the fooditive.com website, it provides comprehensive information on food additives, which can be browsed by classification (color, preservative, antioxidant/acid regulator, thickener/stabilizer, etc), e-number (unique regulatory identifier code for each additive), or name. Unlike our own application, there is no product-based search, so users are left to look up additives one-by-one from the ingredients label of a product they are considering for purchase.


10. GlutenScan

GlutenScan's target user group consists of grocery shoppers who seek to avoid glutens, which is a narrower scope than our larger target group of all allergen-avoiding people. After selecting a product in the grocery store, the user can type in a name or UPC and determine if the product contains gluten. If gluten is present, then the application recommends gluten-free alternatives from its database of products. The subscription-based service offers updated allergen information every week. Of all the applications listed above, it seems that GlutenScan has the most overlap with our project goals. The key differences are that it is specific to gluten and does not cover any other allergens. GlutenScan also relies on manual entry of the UPC instead of the barcode-scanning of my group's application.


Summary

Most of the above applications focus on one specific allergen (eg gluten, peanuts), or a wide range of additives. Our project is relatively unique in its position of covering multiple allergens, and catering to grocery shoppers (in contrast to fast food restaurants). Our project's unique barcode-scanning feature, would increase the convenience of using the application for users compared to manual product lookup or UPC entry, but possibly at the cost of decreased accuracy. In addition, unlike most of the applications which rely on stand-alone offline databases, our application will have the option to draw up-to-date data from the internet in real-time. Our application also permits multiple users, each with a personalized profile. Our group can increase the competitiveness of our proposal by catering to multiple peoples' dietary needs simultaneously, rather than just focusing on the allergen sensitivities of only one user at a time. For example, we could have an 'organize dinner' mode where each participant of the dinner would email their dietary needs to the host, and the program would mark the union of those results as not suitable for consumption. We could further differentiate our project by supplementing our 'preventive' scope with more 'emergency' features that are better targeted to people suffering from specific allergies, rather than just general aversion to addatives. For example, we could have a 'panic' button that automatically calls 911 or reaches a relative in case of allergen ingestion, and provides advice on how to cope with the situation.



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