New Invention: FingerReader

Scientists have developed a wearable device that reads magazines, books and menus out loud.  The technology is produced by 3D printers and fits like a ring on the users finger.

The FingerReader system is the work of developers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who are trying to improve immediate access to printed words for people whose vision is impaired.

The device has a camera attached that scans the text.  A synthesized voice reads those words aloud!  A sample of the audio output can be found here.

By all accounts, with this device reading could be as easy as pointing your finger.  Special software tracks the finger movement, identifies words and processes the information.

According to the MIT Media Lab, the device has vibration motors that alert readers when they stray from the script.  Although other optical readers are available, it is believed to be the first device to convert text into audio in real time.

Down the road, the FingerReader system could also be used to translate from one language to another as it’s reading.

Almost three percent of the population has a visual impairment.  It’s not designed to replace Braille; rather developers say it would vastly increase the amount of literary and everyday text available for the visually-impaired.

For now, the FingerReader is just a research prototype.  But the makers say they may explore turning it into a product in the near future.

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