MIT’s ‘FingerReader’ to aid sight-impaired in reading

click to enlargeMIT Media Lab is developing a chunky plastic ring that in concept and early stage prototype, assists the sight-impaired in reading normal 12 pt. text in a book, magazine or on screen. The ring is worn on the hand (resembles a collar) and the reader points their finger along the line to be read. The camera embedded in the ring scans line by line and ‘speaks’ through speakers on a PC or tablet connected to the ring. If the finger strays too far from a line, there is a dial-tone like feedback sound. It is different than the conceptually similar Reading Pen as being more strongly in real time and reading faster–whole lines rather than word by word. While primarily for the blind and low vision, one of the MIT developers, Roy Shilkrot, a doctoral candidate, envisions simultaneous (machine) translation to another language. With a market of 285 million visually impaired worldwide–85 percent are over 50 (WHO)–there’s a ready-made market right there and for technologies like the Oxford ‘assisted vision’ project [TTA 11 July]. Mr. Shilkrot is shy on the commercialization subject, but given the positive media reception, he should perhaps think it over. TechCrunch (includes video demo), Mashable, MIT’s release and FAQ. Hat tip to reader Luca Sergio of Ethis Communications/Ethis Healthtech, New York

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