Point-and-read device reads on site

Chip giant Intel has launched a device to help people with vision problems who have difficulty reading standard print.

Using a built-in high-resolution camera, it allows users to point at and ‘shoot’ a section of printed text which it converts to digital text that can then be reproduced on the Reader’s display and repeated aloud via voice synthesis to users (the unit had an earphone jack for more personal audio). A separate Portable Capture Station, which looks a bit like a foldable camera rostrum, is designed to enable the Reader to capture longer sections of text such as magazines and books, for later ‘perusal’.

The idea came from Intel’s director of access technology, dyslexia sufferer Ben Foss, who was identified with the learning disorder at school. As a technology engineer, Foss believed that there had to be an ‘anytime/anywhere’ way to convert text to speech quickly and conveniently, and initially experimented with photographing text and running optical character recognition (OCR) software on the photos. “Necessity is motivating," says Ben Foss, “but frustration is the real mother of invention.”

The Intel Reader was developed through Intel’s Digital Health group, and is of course based on an Intel Atom processor, and the Linux operating system.
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