Louis Braille, in 1829, developed a tactile system that would allow those with vision impairment to read books. Braille uses a series of raised dots and the finger trails over a line of braille text and the reader interprets it, much like we do with standard letters of the alphabet that form words. Braille, however, does require some training to understand, and even now, most books, magazines, and newspapers are unavailable in braille format. MIT researchers have changed that problem with a new piece of wearable technology that reads books out loud to those with vision problems. (Video)
The FingerReader is basically an over-sized ring that you wear on your index finger and use to follow a line of text in a book or on a screen. It has a camera that can look at the text and recognize it, and then the ring reads it aloud to you. If your finger veers away from the current line being read, FingerReader’s software recognizes that and offers haptic feedback, even knowing when it reaches the end of a line. It works with both printed text and anything in electronic format, opening up a world of reading to those who have vision problems.
FingerReader has the potential to be more than just a tool for the blind. MIT hopes to expand it to also offer up translation services, allowing you to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame in its original language of French, if that’s your thing. It could also be used as a learning tool to teach the illiterate to read.