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News Link • Inventions

FingerReader helps visually impaired read in real-time

•, By Nick Lavars

FingerReader is a 3D-printed device that is worn as a ring on the index finger and uses a built-in camera and haptic actuators to read aloud as the user traces lines of printed words.

Researchers at the MIT Media Lab were looking to develop a device to help the visually impaired read text, but that felt more natural than other solutions on the market. Read pens, scanners and apps such as TextGrabber and ZoomReader similarly assist the blind by processing slabs of text, though in the eyes of the MIT team, could be improved upon in terms of user experience.

Aside from combining real-time audio feedback with the tactile, natural feel of running a finger-tip along a line of printed text, FingerReader is designed to make the experience closer to the physical act of reading. The algorithm scans multiple words at once and is then able to guide the user, making sure they don't veer off the line of text. The team also claims the ring starts working almost immediately, while other solutions can take several minutes to detect the words depending on changes in lighting and environment.

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