Health and Medicine

New Finger Device Reads Books To The Blind

July 8, 2014 | by Janet Fang

Photo credit: FingerReader / Fluid Interfaces Group, MIT Media Lab

Researchers from the MIT Media Lab have developed a device shaped like a giant ring that can read to people who are visually impaired. They call this 3-D printed prototype, FingerReader.  

After slipping the device on, the user just runs an index finger below the printed text in a magazine, on a business card, or on a menu, for example. A small camera scans the words and the device reads them out loud in real time. Audio cues and a small vibrating motor alerts the user if he or she needs to move to the next line or has veered from the line of text. 

Details about FingerReader can be found in this paper [pdf], and here’s a video of how it works:

 

 

FingerReader is a lot like “reading with the tip of your finger,” MIT’s Pattie Maes explains to AP. “It’s a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now.” Compared with other text-reading solutions, FingerReader works with a simple, familiar gesture of the finger and offers real-time feedback on the progression of the scan.

According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people are visually impaired, and of them, 39 million are blind. The device is just a prototype right now, but according to MIT’s Roy Shilkrot, the team believe they will be able to affordably market the device; though he couldn’t estimate a price just yet. 

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