In 1829, Louis Braille came up with a system for the blind to read. He developed a system of raised dots on a flat surface to correspond with each letter for the alphabet. For almost two centuries after this technique was published, this system has been used to help the blind to read, but it still requires a fair bit of training to master this technique and some of the visually impaired aren’t able to master this technique. Luckily, researchers at MIT have an answer to their woes, they’ve invented something that helps them read without any training.
They’re calling it the FingerReader, a tool that will make it as easy for the blind to read as 1,2,3. The FingerReader fits around your finger like a ring and monitors the text your finger is placed beneath. The ring contains a camera that allows the device to record the text it is placed along and reads it aloud to the wearer.
The Reader can read aloud printed and virtual text (on tablets and smartphones) and though it has limits to the size of the text it can read (12 point text), it can still do a pretty decent job of reading books and other pieces of literature like magazines and newspapers. The Reader also gives haptic feedback to the wearer if they stray too far from a line they are reading (basically a sharp beep sounds to alarm them).
The Reader was developed by MIT researchers Roy Shilkrot, Jochen Huber and others. Their vision for the future is that the Reader will move beyond conventional boundaries of being just for the visually impaired and will serve as a text translator in the future as well.