MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has developed a solution to read text for the blind. Tablet owners often read their favorite articles or books with ease, but blind users are left in the dark. MIT created a prototype that users just the reader’s finger to read text instead of braille.
The FingerReader uses a camera and sensors that will scan the text as the user glides their finger across the screen. The reader will then analyze the text and convert it to audio for the reader.
Blind readers are able to read files on their computer with text to speech solutions, but the FingerReader goes a step further. The reader can be used on printed text, so readers can read their local paper or their favorite novel without needing to be on a computer or tablet.
The audio is also generated in real-time, so the reader will not have to wait for audio conversions.
A complex underlying algorithm will use the reader’s finger to find the start of a new line and then analyze the page to find where the text’s baseline sits. Once the baseline is found, the device will track each word, effectively scan it, and translate it into audio.
The prototype is currently running off of a laptop, but the team behind the device is working on software that will make the FingerReader accessible on Android phones.
Blind users will be alerted when their finger moves away from the current line of text through audio feedback.
While originally designed for the blind, the reader has drawn a lot of attention from those with dyslexia or children that have trouble reading.
Refining the FingerReader and making it accessible to the world is the goal of the developer. A video demonstration of how the device works has been released.
You can view the device in action here.