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The Findbox scanner wants to save you from shopping fatigue

If you regularly struggle to find the products you want in massive retail stores, Findbox's smart scanning system is here to help.

The Findbox scanner. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Tired of wandering aimlessly through large retail shops to find the products you need? So were Findbox's founders, apparently. This Germany-based startup is taking big-box stores on by partnering with brands like Canon, Epsom, and Osram to make it easier for you to pinpoint the exact location of that one specific ink cartridge or light bulb pack that's obscured among the identical-looking masses -- and they're showcasing it all at IFA 2014.

The first element is the Findbox. It's similar to a barcode scanner that you'd see at a large store like Target or Home Depot today, except that you don't need the barcode at all. Instead, you can bring your empty ink cartridge or burnt out LED to your store of choice, stick it under the Findbox scanners and wait a few seconds for the magic to happen. Findbox's smart sensors will locate the exact bulb in its cloud database and tell you whether that store carries that specific product, or something comparable.

LightGuide labels are the second component that, although optional, really round out Findbox's offerings. Basically, they are little LED tags that attach to each Findbox-compatible product rack and illuminate to literally show you where your Osram bulb has been hiding. You can also manually enter product information, like your GE microwave's model number, to learn what replacement bulbs you need to buy.

Right now, Findbox is limited to printer ink and bulb brands and can scan smartphones to locate the right accessories, too. Findbox is still in development, but is planning to head to stores in Europe and the US soon. There's no word yet on which specific stores will carry Findbox's handy services or if it's planning to expand its partnerships beyond ink cartridges and light bulbs.