Sacheta wanted to buy footwear, so there we were, in Kala Niketan, Janpath on a Saturday evening looking for bellies and such. As usual, I was wearing my Vision 800 glasses running the vOICe. One advantage in footwear shopping is that the customer needs to sit to try it. The shop was not too crowded and we did not have a problem in finding a seat. However, before sitting, we looked around the shop, asking the staff for what she wanted. There were shelves packed with footwear. I was unable to understand the shapes until I touched a slipper. It had been stacked on its end such that the strap that comes on the top of your foot was facing the customer. This is different from how shoes are stacked because shoes are kept with their backs to the customer or at least that was the way they were kept the last time I checked.
The shapes were uniform from a far and the shelf boundaries formed hard edges in the scene. The shop had a large range of footwear in several colors. Once I was seated, I began to play with the color filter. Blue, green and red did not yield much feedback. I hit pay dirt when I chose orange. This was strange. I could hear shoppers asking for a colors like “rose gold”, whatever that is. Where was this color? I don’t think anyone wears orange shoes but then what do I know? The analyze option came in really handy. I sat back letting the scan tell me what filters were working. I then enabled the live OCR which introduced a new wrinkle. As I panned, I heard “fresh stock.” Hmm, what could they mean? Were they referring to the latest fashion? Was someone baking shoes? I could not ask Sacheta because she was engaged with a persistent sales person.
Once she had completed her shopping I was able to clear up some of the mysteries. The orange filter worked probably because the shop used a lot of yellow light. The “fresh stock” meant that there was no sale on those items. Don’t ask me why they could not say this up front.
I did have a chance to look at shoes and to distinguish details, my palm remains the best tool. However, with some more practice, I think I will be able to reliably distinguish between shelves full of slippers and shelves where shoes are stacked.
I did not buy anything so did not get a chance to try walking but I can see myself creating a visual landmark of a shelf or something else and walking independently to test shoes.
Some may ask, what is the point of it all? The simple way to buy footwear is to ask for what you want and try until you like something. Yes, this approach works well but my scene reader helped me to get a better idea of what was in the shop and thereby make a more informed choice.
Photography is not allowed in the shop so I did not take any images.
Be careful when looking and searching for a place to sit. These shops are full of humans sitting and not paying attention to their surroundings. Stay in the middle of the isle as much as you can. Let the staff guide you to a seat.