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Restatement of Idea

For the project, my group selected an iPhone app to help users with allergies shop by scanning a bar code and matching any allergens in the product to the user's allergies.

Group Brainstorm: Epileptic Eels

List of Competitors

Allergy Related

Bar Code Related


Food Additives

This application targets users who are cautious about what they eat and would like to have more information on hand about additives in their food. This is a much broader user base than our allergy app, and as a result, Food Additives covers a much wider range of additives that may or may not be dangerous for any number of reasons, which is good for this app but not the specific goal of our app. The application offers several different ways to sort the database of additives, including name, symptom, and diet, as well as color coding of additives by their level of danger. Our app will most likely differ by offering a simpler, smaller set of features that will require a bar code input to find an allergen rather than the ability to search for it by name or category. The interface of the application is very good, taking advantage of natural color cues to signal the level of danger, as well as a common template to display information so that the user knows what to expect from each additive listing. What most likely needs changing though is a search bar to type in a specific additive, which would most likely expedite looking through the large database present. There is promising feedback on this application as well, as many users said it helped the task of reading labels, something that our application intends to do as well.

Is That Gluten Free?

"Is That Gluten Free?" is targeted at shoppers who wish to avoid gluten for any number of reasons, including gluten sensitivity, Celiac Disease, and any other reasons to avoid gluten. This is very similar to the target user group of our application, except it targets a specific allergy, or a specific allergen to avoid, as opposed to any allergy. The functionality of this app includes the ability to search through a database of brands and products to check to see whether the food contains gluten or not. However, this application does not utilize the scanning of bar codes as our application proposes, which decreases the ease with which a product can be checked for allergens. The way products are found is a drawback of the application because of the time and effort it takes for a product to be found, which would be alleviated by the bar code scanning feature of our application. The ability to add products to the database is a added bonus that helps users who shop at specialized or small stores.

Allergy Guard Lite

Just like our proposed application, the target user group of Allergy Guard Lite (and standard Allergy Guard) is people who suffer from allergies and want an easy way to quickly check what foods have what allergens. In terms of functionality, Allergy Guard lets you search either by allergen or by food product and check your results against a profile of allergens created for the user. This is very similar to our application, except for the bar code functionality again, as well as listing allergens, which would be irrelevant to the goals and target usage of our application. There are many mutual features between the two applications that adds ease to the usability, including user profiles and simple red-light/green-light warning signs, however, from a user interface perspective, the application windows seem very cluttered and difficult to navigate (through scrolling), which would be counter-productive to the goals of our application.

Gluten-Free Groceries

Gluten-Free Groceries targets those who are unable to have gluten in their diet, which is very similar to our target user group but much more specific. It allows users to search food categories for products that are gluten free, offering tens of thousands of products from thousands of brands. However, this is more or less the reverse functionality of proposed application, which would get a product as input and return whether allergens are present or not. The method of information delivery seems very reliable though, and avoids the problem of encountering an unknown product. The user interface is very straightforward and easy to use, and color coding between products, brands, and categories seems to make the application more user friendly. However, the categories are very specific, which I see as a downside to the usability of the application. This is something that can easily be avoided by creating broad categories filled with smaller sub categories.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts is targeted at users who are cautious of what they eat and thus need to check nutritional labels often. This can be for any number of reasons, including cholesterol or sodium issues, prevention of overeating, or special diets, such as Atkins, which is very similar to our application, except for the difference in direction (ours being directed toward allergy-prone people). Nutrition Facts allows users to search for foods by category or by name and then display the nutritional label for the selected food. The main feature similarity between this application and ours is looking up of nutritional facts, directly in this application and indirectly in our application. However, in our application, the proposed idea is for all the nutritional facts not to be shown, which could be seen as a downgrade from this application, but serves our purpose better. There are many user complaints about the size of the database, reliability of the interface, and overall speed of the app, all of which will be good to consider in the developmental stages of our app. While it will be more difficult to regulate the speed of our app, we can definitely improve the food database by including the most popular and relevant foods first, then slowly adding more unique and specific products.

Don't Eat That

This application targets people who want to avoid food additives for a number of reasons, including allergens, carcinogens, or health. This is very similar to our application, except our application specifically targets those with allergens and not such a broad range of dietary restrictions. The main features of this application include the ability to search for additives both by entering the name or by scrolling alphabetically and the categorization of dangerous additives. Again, this is very similar to our application in respect to identifying dangerous ingredients, however it lacks the bar code scanner as the method for looking up the allergens, but the app would most likely benefit from a way to search for the allergens by name. In terms of usability, this application benefits greatly from its simplicity. This application does exactly what is expected and nothing extra that would take up space or make the interface complex.

Grocery iQ

Since grocery shopping is something that almost everyone needs to do at some point or another, this application has a very broad target user group: anyone who goes grocery shopping and would like to be more organized about it. This is fairly different from our target user group, because our target users would most likely have allergies or be shopping for someone with allergies, but there is common ground in the shopping element. In terms of functionality, this application allows the user to compile a grocery shopping list and organize it to their liking, as well as scan the bar code of an item to add it to the grocery list. Our proposed idea will differ most likely by cross checking scanned products for allergens, as well as possibly not including the list feature and instead simply being a way to scan a bar code and check for allergens in the product. User reviews state that the main problem with usability is the amount of ads that the coupon feature caries and errors in printing, neither of which will be a problem because our group does not plan to utilize these features. Improvement in usability would most likely come in the form of extra features for added ease.


Shopper targets users who want to organize their shopping lists in order to make grocery shopping, and other types of shopping, easier. While this is is not the same as our target user group, there is common ground in the shopping aspect that makes it worthwhile to compare this application to our goals. The main aspect of this application that separates it from other shopping applications is the ability to scan bar codes and get notices about FDA and USDA recall warnings, which is a main point of interest when compared to our application. This is essentially the same goal that we want to accomplish with our application, except to receive allergen warnings when a bar code is scanned by the app. However, there seem to be a lot of usability issues with Shopper due to unnecessary complexity in the application, which is a product off too many features cluttering the app. This is easy to solve with a strong, centralized focus, which is something we will hopefully keep in mind when designing our application.

FoodScanner - Calorie, Diet, and Weight Loss

Similar to many of the other applications in this analysis, the target user group is people who would like to have an easier time shopping, but this application also includes users who want a simpler way of keeping track of daily consumption. This is close to our target user group, except that our application specifically targets those with allergies who want to shop easier rather than anyone who wants to shop easier. Thia application allows a user to scan a bar code and view the corresponding nutritional label, as well as add additional foods that are not present in the database. Our application would function very closely to FoodScanner, except that it would only list (or check) the allergens in a product rather than the entire nutritional label. However, access to the nutritional label would be a very useful tool to have for our application. Most user reviews say this application runs very well and exactly to expectations, however there is the occasional comment about the scanner not working at all, which could simply be solved by rigorous testing across a variety of devices.


Unlike our app, RedLaser is directed at a general audience of users who want to scan items in order to compare prices rather than for those who want to scan items to check for allergens. However, the main point of comparison between the two applications is the bar code functionality. RedLaser enables users to scan the bar code of a product they wish to buy and do an internet search of competitor prices. This would be similar to the functionality of our allergy application in that our application would scan food products and cross check a database of ingredient lists to find food allergens. Many of the usability problems seem to be with the online searching aspect of the application, which is vital to this application, but avoidable in our application through use of something along the lines of an in-device database that updates periodically.


While the topic of allergens in food has been covered by other applications before, there are not many applications that focus solely on the issue of allergies, often deferring it to a subtopic included with the application. However, one of the main features of our application, the scanning of bar codes, has been very well developed, with many reviews praising the accuracy of current bar code scanners. Most bar code applications focused on creating lists or comparing prices though, and there were few that used the bar code in a short time frame as our application proposes. Also, there were very few applications that featured the user profile aspect that we have proposed, something that can be very useful for users shopping for several people. Ideally, our application will take small parts of many of the applications available and combine them to accomplish our specific goals, as well as to improve the usability and user appeal of our application. A central selling point of our application will most likely be the speed and simplicity with which users will be able to do what they need to do and continue shopping.

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