Researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) are developing a real time audio reader for the visually impaired called the FingerReader.
Designed to be worn on the index finger, MIT’s new device is portable and comes with several innovative features that help the blind read forms, papers, menus, and books on the fly. The FingerReader is equipped with a small camera that scans and tracks text, and projects a synthesized voice that verbalizes the words highlighted. Audio cues and vibration motors inside the device let readers know where the text begins and ends, or if their finger strays from a sentence.
According to Pattie Maes, lead MIT professor developing the prototype, the FingerReader is “a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now.”
The technology, however, remains in development, and a few challenges remain. Specifically, the device is not yet optimal for reading text on electronic devices, as placing a finger on either a smartphone or tablet moves the text. And as you’ll see and hear in the following video, the software processing the text scanned is still slow, making the synthesized voice reading the text sound too robotic and monotone.
Although not intended to replace Braille, the FingerReader will soon help the visually impaired increase their access to text wherever they go.