More than 39 million people worldwide are blind, and more than 285 million people have some degree of visual impairment. Amongst more obvious problems like walking down the high street, the simple pleasure of being able to read not just a book but the leaflets and medications that the doctor gives you can be troublesome.
With the rise in popularity of ebooks, more than 84% of the best selling ebooks in the UK are accessible in blind formats, compared to a measly 0.23% of print books. Seeing this inequality, as well the problems with reading anything at all, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed a device to overcome this problem.
The FingerReader is a ring like device worn on the index finger, which contains a camera, software, and the ability to speak. Users then run their finger over a line of text, whether that be a menu or medication box, which is then instantly spoken back to the person.
Of course, how would you know where the text was if you can’t see? FingerReader helps you find where the text begins, and if you veer off the line of text it will tell you until you’ve found your way back to the line.
FingerReader isn’t on the market yet because the researchers are still building their final product, but when it’s finished it’s being lined up for uses not just with the visually impaired, but with children learning to read, and to help people learn new languages, and i’m sure there will be many more.
Faye Prior (Researcher)