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Intel's New E-Reader For the Visually Impaired

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the tell-me-a-story dept.

Books 111

serverguy writes "Intel will be releasing a win for all visually impaired members of society, a new device called the Intel Reader. It allows visually impaired people to take a snapshot of a newspaper, book, or magazine and have it read back to them. It's estimated that in the US alone there are as many as 55 million people who could make use of such a device. It comes at hefty price though: the paperback-sized device costs $1,499. The device contains a 5-megapixel camera and is powered by a Linux OCR system that converts text into spoken words. The device can hold up to 2GB of data, which would equate to around 600 snapshots. In addition to reading text, the device can also play back audio books in a number of supported formats such as MP3 and WAV. The Intel Reader is expected to be released next Tuesday." The device won't be speedy: "Intel says it takes about 30 seconds to process each page of text... It took... about 30 minutes to scan in the pages of a 250-page book and then one hour to process them."

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30 seconds (1)

Carnivore24 (467239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052670)

30 seconds ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:30 seconds (2, Informative)

thewils (463314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052750)

But that's only for n=1 though. For larger values of n (approaching 250) the time comes down to around 7.2 seconds per page.

That's according to the summary. Which might be wrong.

Re:30 seconds (2, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053402)

From the summary, 30 minutes to scan, 60 minutes to process. Comes to about 22 seconds actually; which, for all intents and purposes, is about 30 seconds.

Re:30 seconds (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30055178)

How do the blind people know where to point the camera?

Re:30 seconds (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058464)

A larger group than "blind" will be visually-impaired... people who can probably see the book, but not the words. I'm facing such a fate myself soon. I came up with a similar idea, but as usual someone beat me to it [associatedcontent.com] . Just use your camera phone, and port some decent open-source OCR software to it.

In general, I'm not a fan of dedicated e-book readers. I think next year we'll see some killer multi-touch arm-based net-tablets with e-paper-like displays [youtube.com] and battery life. I think the killer app will be the e-book reader. Twenty years from now, I'll be able to tell kids about the days when we had special devices for reading books, and that's what an e-book reader was, rather than a program. Remember when a "word processor" meant a dedicated and very expensive machine for editing text documents? Yes, I'm that old.

is the cost from portability/integration? (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052678)

The raw features somehow make the $1500 seem odd. The admittedly unwieldy equivalent built out of commodity parts is basically a 5-megapixel camera that transfers its data over USB (can be had for under $100 these days), and a netbook (~$300), for a total of ~$400 of hardware. What's the extra $1100 for? The integration into a nice portable package? Development costs of a proprietary OCR/voicesynth pipeline?

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30052756)

Is it possible that they are somehow planning on passing this off as some sort of "medical device" that insurance companies would then pay for?

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053010)

No, in that case it would list for $15,000. =]

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053050)

In all seriousness though, I think the grandparent poster might be right. If it's designed as a single-purpose device specifically to assist people with a disability, it goes into a whole different market which might include insurance coverage.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30052882)

Are you talking about this e-reader or an Apple computer?

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052938)

I still laugh at the for the blind part. Are the blind expected to know what page they're on with which to have read?

"I really wonder what page 47 says".

re: the blind (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058994)

I still laugh at the for the blind part. Are the blind expected to know what page they're on with which to have read?
"I really wonder what page 47 says".

What exactly makes you laugh about this? If you scan or take a picture of a page and OCR it, that typically includes the page number. If you scan and OCR a whole book, you can ctrl-f for the page number or skip to that page in the document if you have kept the pagination the same. Then you listen to what is on page 47 and no longer wonder. Blind people are perfectly capable of flipping pages to scan and screen readers are pretty good at telling them what is going on. You should check out what they are able to do before you laugh.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (4, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053048)

The extra $1100 is for Intel to pay their legal defense fund when the Authors' Guild sues them for violating their authors' "performance rights".

I'm serious. The Guild has already sued Amazon for creating a Kindle that reads books out loud.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (2, Interesting)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053590)

When I was at the 2001 Canadian copyright consultation, I spoke with a publisher about something just like this.

We were arguing about DMCA-like amendments to copyright law. His position was that he should be able to prohibit *anything* that was capable of reading an e-book, because it would infringe his copyright. Even if that device would read ebooks to blind people. He told me that if he wanted to publish a version for blind people, he would, and that if he didn't, nobody should be allowed to make something that would do it for them.

I asked him "if someone invented a device that read paper books to blind people, would you have the same opinion?" He said absolutely - as a publisher, it was his right to prevent people from reading his books if he didn't want them to - and if he didn't publish a braille version, blind people shouldn't be allowed to read them.

I said "even though this would increase your audience, and thus your sales at no cost to you?", and he said "Absolutely. The books are *mine*, and something that allows blind people to read them is a violation of my copyright."

Since then, I've never met a publisher that had a different attitude. They're all fucking batshit insane.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053794)

Or cold-hearted. Doesn't the Americans with Disabilities Act require books to be published in braille form, if a blind person requests it?

Also his attitude is not too surprising. There used to be a company that purchased perfectly-legal DVDs of movies, removed the objectionable scenes, and then sold the DVD (plus $10 to cover the service) to families. That company got sued, and the directors argued if familes want clean versions, they will provide them. Well that company is now gone, but I don't see any family-friendly DVDs being released.

It's all about control. THEY have it; we don't. Yet another reason I think works need to be allowed to fall into the public domain, so public domain publishers can offer these books/dvds in various formats (including braille or family-friendly).

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054250)

My understanding is that scanning a book that you own to put it through a brailler or into Kuzweil software is specifically protected by law.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30055182)

Doesn't the Americans with Disabilities Act require books to be published in braille form, if a blind person requests it?

I have no idea. I do know, however, that as a US law, it's not binding on Canadians. :)

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30055426)

Doesn't the Americans with Disabilities Act require books to be published in braille form, if a blind person requests it?

I have no idea. I do know, however, that as a US law, it's not binding on Canadians. :)

So, it's only legally required to be in English braille and French braille? ;}

(Please don't hurt me, I'm only joking!)

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30058762)

There used to be a company that purchased perfectly-legal DVDs of movies, removed the objectionable scenes, and then sold the DVD (plus $10 to cover the service) to families. That company got sued, and the directors argued if familes want clean versions, they will provide them.

I agree with the objection to not providing copies for visually impaired people, but how can you defend this shit? Those companies are butchering someone else's work for profit (and $10 is more than the original creator is making from each sale).

Also,, from memory, the situation was not "if families wanted clean versions, we will provide them," it was "we may or may not provide clean versions, but probably not" because the creators wanted to maintain artistic integrity.

A "perfectly legal" DVD to buy for private screening does not grant one the right to modify and redistribute said material for profit.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059094)

>>>Those companies are butchering someone else's work

Ahh. Did we hurt wittle directors' feelings, because we don't want our 5-year-olds hearing "fuck you" in the middle of a Transformers movie? Well that's just too bad.

>>>for profit

I'm aware of this "company". It was a sole guy who was working out of his basement. He wasn't getting rich. He was providing a service which I and many other families found useful. Now I can't show Transformers or many other films to my kids. And it's not as if the creators were losing money. The original DVD was purchased legally, edited to remove sex/lanaguage/violence, and then sold. The creator got his residual.

>>>the creators wanted to maintain artistic integrity.

You mean they want to ruin family-friendly shows with un-necessary sex/violence/language. They have TV-friendly versions. They said they would release those on DVD, but never did.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059290)

> because the creators wanted to maintain artistic integrity.

Really? Then that must be the only integrity they're maintaining...

I see nothing ethically wrong with buying a legit DVD, editing it, then selling the edited version. Especially if you are buying a DVD for each modified DVD you resell.

It may be illegal, but I don't see it as unethical.

You have passed the demanded profits to whoever sold the DVDs, and you have added value for whoever is willingly buying them in full knowledge of what they are. In fact sales have increased.

So if the guy is making 10 bucks more, the DVD maker deserves none of it. They can make the 10 bucks themselves if they just do what those customers wanted.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30055630)

Invite your blind friend over and read the book to him. I wonder what the publisher would say about that! If he's consistent, he will still claim you are violating his rights.

I agree with your assessment of the sanity of these people.

Disabled tax (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053450)

The admittedly unwieldy equivalent built out of commodity parts is basically a 5-megapixel camera that transfers its data over USB (can be had for under $100 these days), and a netbook (~$300), for a total of ~$400 of hardware. What's the extra $1100 for?

Unfortunately rip-off pricing is pretty much guaranteed in accessibility devices. Just go compare Kurzweil 1000 [sightandsound.co.uk] with similar commodity scanning apps.

Intel is successful with CPUs, almost only that. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053672)

Maybe the big picture is that Intel has not been successful, generally, at making products other than processors and chipsets and motherboards.

Intel had a consumer division which was closed. I don't know the reason for closing the division, but all the Intel consumer products I reviewed had major flaws.

Right now I'm trying to find a graphics driver for an Intel chipset motherboard. The Intel web site is amazingly complicated to use.

Generally, Intel employees say they are unhappy with CEO Otellini. Stories are told of extreme inefficiency in every area besides the main business.

Once I called for Intel technical support, and told the technical support representative about a major problem with the Intel web site. He said, "We are updating it, that will be fixed soon." A year later, I called again about something else. I accidentally got the same Intel representative. When I asked him about the fault on the web site that was still exactly the same, he made exactly the same statement.

Re:is the cost from portability/integration? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054194)

The raw features somehow make the $1500 seem odd.

The geek can hack out a gadget and call it an aid for the disabled.

That doesn't mean that any public or private agency will be able to buy one for their clients.

Without proof that the thing actually works as described and has real and substantial benefits.

The first question that needs to be answered is how easy will it be for a visually - and perhaps physically - impaired reader to use the camera.

I have my own doubts about this one.
 

Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052710)

The N900 seems like it ought to have enough horsepower to do this job, perhaps slightly slower but I don't see why the device can't be reading and scanning at the same time. N900 has a 5MP, I'm sure a future iPhone will have an acceptable camera... et cetera. I'm curious if there's audio feedback to tell you if you're correctly framing the page.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (4, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052768)

The N900 seems like it ought to have enough horsepower to do this job

Unfortunately, since an N900 can do other things as well, disability coverage won't pay for it. Insurers demand assistive devices be single-function, even if the devices have to be crippled to comply.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053030)

Will it pay for the software, at least? The devices themselves are available as low as $549 (newegg maybe? geeks? I forget, probably the former) without a contract. I imagine you could get one pretty reasonably with a plan. Lots of people have cellphones these days, and it has a keyboard so it could conceivably be made fairly accessible if it isn't already. (not to mention that whole running Linux thing)

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059062)

I believe yes, the software is covered and is similarly expensive. I can't remember which phone it is for, but for one of the high end Nokia phones, a blind friend of mine was showing me some beta software he was testing. It not only did what this Intel device claims to do, but it would also correctly OCR pictures of signs. This is actually a quite a bit more difficult problem given 3D distortions and other imaging issues. It did cost about $1,000 though. One pretty cool thing for blind people was that it correctly recognized paper currency. It's one of those little things you and I don't think about, but blind people have an elaborate folding system for being able to recognize which note is which in their wallet. That feature wasn't really part of the OCR, but something that was built into the image processing. Sorry I don't have any direct links.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (1)

pky666 (1675924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053664)

In Canada, the Federal government pays two-thirds of the cost of assistive medical devices, so the companies who manufacture and sell these items automatically triple the prices.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30053960)

Unfortunately, since an N900 can do other things as well, disability coverage won't pay for it. Insurers demand assistive devices be single-function, even if the devices have to be crippled to comply.

But you don't need insurance to pay for it when it's a 0, 5, 10, or 20 dollar add on to an existing product that you already own.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30061584)

It will be priced what the market can bear, and if the market has assisted purchasing power via insurance, the price will account for that.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052770)

I'm curious if there's audio feedback to tell you if you're correctly framing the page.

I sure hope so...with these figures

The device won't be speedy: "Intel says it takes about 30 seconds to process each page of text

I'd sure be pissed to wait 30 seconds only to hear "Page 3 of 7"

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (2, Informative)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053446)

Actually, this isn't even a thing of the future. I know a blind person who already has an application which does exactly this on his Nokia phone. He can use it to read signs on the street, letters in his mailbox and basically any text he captures with the camera on his phone.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30055428)

Actually, there is already software to turn selected phones into exactly what this product does. At the moment, all good solutions I've seen cost at least $1500 for the software alone - plus the cost of a quite powerful phone to go with it. I saw a recent model in action just the other day, it starts reading a few seconds after the snapshot and continues deciphering the text on the fly as it reads - it was able to get an entire magazine article perfectly.

As to the iphone, apple is currently very good at support for the vision impaired. The screenreading software included with OSX is better than all the windows screenreaders I've had any real experience with (mostly just JAWS and windoweyes), and I've heard that the iphone is actually quite highly regarded despite the lack of any tactile feedback or input...I just haven't looked into that part myself, since we're unable to get grants from the government for iphones.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (1)

jeffthejiff (877347) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059718)

This is actually already possible on S60 phones, with an app called KNFB Reader. Although it isn't cheap, its a fair bit cheaper than this Intel one.

Re:Seems like a future iPhone, N900, etc. app (1)

fastfinge (823794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30063942)

The N82 is already doing this, with software called the KNFB reader. The big issue with porting the KNFB Reader over to other phones is that, while some of them have a 5MP camera, none of them have a good enough flash. I'm not totally clear on why that's an issue, but apparently it is. I keep the phone close enough to the source (book/paper/whatever) that I don't really know why it wants the flash all the time, but it decides to use it in nearly every shot. The only time I didn't hear the flash activate was once when I was sitting outside in direct sunlight. I have an N82 with this software and use it daily. I now can't upgrade to any other phone, because the software won't run on anything else, and I use it all the time.

Illiteracy isn't a visual impairment. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30052720)

It allows visually impaired people to take a snapshot of a newspaper, book, or magazine and have it read back to them. It's estimated that in the US alone there are as many as 55 million people who could make use of such a device.

Illiteracy is NOT a "visual impairment". Most of these Americans can see just fine. They're just too fucking lazy to turn off the TV, put down their bag of chips, grab even just a newspaper, and read it.

Re:Illiteracy isn't a visual impairment. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053132)

You do realise that there is such a thing as blindness right? And that there are enough of these blind people around to have just about every sign in a business have braille or raised lettering.

Re:Illiteracy isn't a visual impairment. (2, Insightful)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053392)

Aside from the fact that you're a troll, there's a deeper meme here worth debunking: that accessibility features are just for the "impaired".

Gregg Vanderheiden gave the closing plenary talk at the SIGCHI [sigchi.org] 2001 conference. The subject was how creative integration of accessibility features can greatly improve functionality for all users, including examples of products originally designed for people with impairments which went on to wider commercial success. As an example of this kind of thinking, with portable devices (mobile phones, music players, PDAs) we're all "blind" at some time or another -- we cannot or do not want to redirect our visual attention to the device. So what happens when the normal function of the device includes cues to operation that don't require vision (via audio, haptics, etc.)? The device becomes more useful to everyone, including those with visual impairment. Likewise, by including design elements that work when users can't hear a device that device is more useful to both the hearing impaired and to users in loud environments.

There's a summary of this presentation with more details here: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue28/chi/ [ariadne.ac.uk] Scroll down past the stuff about Bill Gates' opening keynote (which was utterly lame in comparison to Vanderheiden's talk, IMO).

Can't pronounce "reading" !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30052798)

If you watch the video demonstration in the article, I believe that the device pronounces "reading" as something closer to "ri-add-ing."

It's hard to tell because the demonstrator starts to speak just before the word is read by the device, but I listened to it twice and heard "ri-add-ing" both times.

Potential abuse (2, Funny)

iztehsux (1339985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052824)

I see this device somehow being turned into something that pirates audio books, or spies on people.

Re:Potential abuse (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053166)

How? This is basically a camera that turns text to speech. It doesn't record audio books or anything, and I think it should be well within your rights to have an audio copy of books you own or even library books especially if you can't normally use books due to a disability. And spying on people? Because a blind person is going to go up to someone and digitise something?

Re:Potential abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30053360)

Whoosh...

Re:Potential abuse (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 4 years ago | (#30060030)

"... It doesn't record audio books or anything ..." Actually, it does record them to MP3 if you watch the video.

oh, bother. (2, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052828)

Now we have yet another device waiting to be demonized by the copyright nazis.

I don't... (1)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053912)

Putting DRM on a device built for the visually impaired? I don't see it.


I'm going to hell.

Re:I don't... (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30055302)

Taking pictures of books, automatically OCR'ing them, while being portable, fairly quick, and having enough space to actually hold a useful volume of works: If you can't see the copyright issue here, then I guess you'll have to wait until some previously-non-digital printed works show up on TPB courtesy of this device for the sheer obviousness of it to shine through.

I, for one, am all for it. But, then, I'm not the copyright Nazi I was referring to.

ASCAP will put a stop to this (4, Funny)

tekrat (242117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052870)

This device is a violation, and users will have to pay royalties for a public performance of a copyrighted work.

#1) You are "copying" (aka pirating), when you take the snapshot.
#2) The device then produces an audio public performance of the pirated work.

It's illegal under copyright laws and the DMCA.

Re:ASCAP will put a stop to this (1)

aedil (68993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053988)

Copyright exceptions exist for the purpose of ensuring that people with disabilities can access print materials, etc... Printed works can be presented in alternative specialized formats (and voice rendering is one of those formats) without constituting a copyright violation. Check out bookshare.org... It's largely based on that.

Re:ASCAP will put a stop to this (1)

grozniy (1274944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30059630)

I am not an expert on this issue, but shouldn't the publishers supply information in variable formats for people with disabilities? Same people that write numbers on the buttons in the elevator, put brail tags there. Taking a snapshot of that would probably be a violation of copyright laws since it's being taken by a device not approved by a publisher.

Re:ASCAP will put a stop to this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30054312)

You forgot all the copying it does within RAM, and to the storage device. Havent courts ruled that copying as covered by copyright to?

Lawsuit over "performance royalties"? (5, Interesting)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052872)

Didn't some group sue Amazon over the Kindle's ability to read text out loud? Is Intel next on the hit list due to this? I mean, for $1,500 you could hire some poor, out of work, minstrel to walk around with you and read articles in real time.

Granted, they are a bit clunkier than what most airlines allow for as carry on luggage items, but still.

Re:Lawsuit over "performance royalties"? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053444)

You know, this has the potential to get rather interesting...

Sony [playstation.com] is being sued by a blind fellow for not making their PS3 ADA compliant. Amazon was threatened [cnet.com] with a lawsuit by the Authors Guild for making their Kindle ADA compliant. Now Intel is taunting the Authors Guild by making a device with the express purpose of giving blind and otherwise visually impaired access to written works.

Re:Lawsuit over "performance royalties"? (1)

aedil (68993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054032)

The problem with the kindle was largely that the text-to-speech functionality was a mainstream feature they were advertising (albeit in somewhat beta-fashion). In terms of accessibility to enable blind and visually impaired users to read the (otherwise) print materials on the kindle, no copyright violation etc would take place because that is covered under specific exceptions. Of course, the overall inaccessibility of the kindle makes that argument a bit hard to make.

But with the Intel Reader being marketed as a specific assistive technology device, it's functionality as described would not be in violation with any copyright laws or DMCA because it is an assistive technology device that enables printed materials to be read by blind and visually impaired users.

Amazon Kindle text to speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30052916)

I thought that the Kindle wasn't able to do text to speech because of copyright concerns. How is this any different?

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/amazon-backs-off-text-to-speech-feature-in-kindle/

Kindle (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052996)

Maybe someone could build a device that lets you download the text of many national newspapers and can do a test-to-speach from that, instead of trying to use a crappy OCR application. Maybe if the sold it for a lot less, say $300, then it would be more affordable for blind people. They may not get many local newspapers, but for the price difference it might be a better fit for their income. It might be good if they could download the text of many books too. Could we interest a large bookseller, like Amazon, into selling them?

Re:Kindle (1)

Jackazz (572024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053532)

Have you tried navigating a Kindle without sight? This device was designed from the ground up with accessibility in mind. Tactile buttons that cover all the functions, menus that are spoken or can be enlarged for low vision, and features that help orient the device and take pictures of text when you can't even see.

Totally different function than just a talking newspaper.

Software for Everyone (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053040)

I'm looking forward to someone unlocking the reader SW from its Linux-driven dedicated HW. I'd like my webcam to read my books and magazines to me at home.

Re:Software for Everyone (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053086)

I'd like my webcam to read my books and magazines to me at home.

Make it also wash the dishes and vacuum the house and you got yourself a deal!

55 million people in the US alone? (1)

tyrrell (844002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053044)

I did not RTFA, but doesn't 55 million seem like an inflated figure? (Supposedly the number of people in the U.S. who are visually impaired enough to make use of this device) The U.S. has approximately 300 million people. This means more than 1 in 6 people are visually impaired enough to "make use" of the device. Or they're just lazy.

Re:55 million people in the US alone? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053114)

I did not RTFA, but doesn't 55 million seem like an inflated figure?

Think about all the elderly people who have trouble making out the text in a normal book.

Re:55 million people in the US alone? (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053270)

http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=15&DocumentID=4398#numbers [afb.org] says that 20 million people have significant vision loss. Plus, add in the number of people who are close to blind without contacts or glasses on and the elderly and you can easily see 55 million people.

Re:55 million people in the US alone? (1)

Orbijx (1208864) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053560)

you can easily see

Now that I've got my glasses on...
I see what you did there. :)

This should be interesting... (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053100)

It was too small to see in the article, but I didn't see Braille on the buttons to tell a (True) visually impared person where to touch... Also, If they can't see to read, etc, how can they read the instructions that are on the screen?

The thought is nice, but I don't think well thought out... Kinda like Braille on the ATM in the drive through lane at the bank, WTF?

Re:This should be interesting... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053150)

Kinda like Braille on the ATM in the drive through lane at the bank, WTF?

That's for a blind passenger who steps out of the vehicle and uses the ATM.

Re:This should be interesting... (2, Insightful)

kidblast (413235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053230)

The braille on the drive through bank ATMs is because it would be more expensive to create two types of buttons (braille and without) and know ahead of time where the ATM would be installed.

This was discussed in Freakonomics IIRC.

Re:This should be interesting... (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053414)

Kinda like Braille on the ATM in the drive through lane at the bank, WTF?

Judging by the way people drive on the Southern California freeways, it makes some sense. In fact, auto manufactures might consider doing the instrument panels on cars destined for this area in Braille.

Re:This should be interesting... (1)

bendie (1676078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30056534)

They don't have to read the instructions on the screen. Everything on the screen (menu, directions, status, etc) is also spoken out.

Re:This should be interesting... (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 4 years ago | (#30060076)

"... how can they read the instructions that are on the screen?" The instructions are read out too!

Overkill (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053290)

This seems like crazy overkill. Benetech's program BookShare already provides the content in a format that traditional disabled accessible devices can handle. Plus it's all free for the content. This is probably the single most socially beneficial exception to the copyright law operating on the books right now. Any disabled person can have access to any copyrighted content at no charge through this program. Totally amazing:

http://www.benetech.org/literacy/bookshare.shtml [benetech.org]

Re:Overkill (1)

aedil (68993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054070)

Your claim that bookshare is 'at no charge' isn't entirely accurate. Bookshare does charge a fee to its members, except for some specific user classes such as k12 students who have a reading disability.

this FP f or GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30053328)

you loved that for the state of NIGGER community but I'd rather hear and some of the As fitti%ngly elected, we ttok against vigorous is the worst off AMERICA) might be

Re:this FP f or GNAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30053538)

Your post is yet more proof that racism is due to brain damage.

Visually impaired people taking snapshots? (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30053528)

I'm not too sure about the various degrees of visual impairment that would reduce visual acuity to the point where reading is no longer feasible, but...

On the face of the matter, it seems someone ludicrous, or at the least ironic, that the device relies on a visually impaired individuals using a visual interface to interpret documents they cannot read. If they're impaired such that they cannot read, then will they easily be able to tell that the document is in focus? That the document is even entirely in the frame?

The screen looks awfully small, too...

It seems more like this device would help people who can see, but perhaps are unable to read for various reasons. If the cost were cut down, it may help in countries where there are many illiterate people. It may also be a solution for people with severe dyslexia.

Missing the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30053592)

I don't get the big push in text-to-speech technology. Is there a problem with making the fonts bigger?

My Android G1 is killing me and there's absolutely no accessibility feature to enlarge the fonts. The 1.6 update brought an accessibility option in the settings menu -- but the only option available is T2S. ARRRRGH!!!

Worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30053808)

At $1500 most people that they supposedly are targeting will not be able to afford it. So other than 'goodwill' this is worthless.

Let see this in action now... (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054036)

Blind Person: "Where's that dang little camera thing?"
(feels around until they find it)
Blind Person: "Where's that paper?"
(find the paper and unfolds some pages)
(Takes a picture of the paper upside down)
Reader: "Blah duh mup plump fluget..."

OCR viability. (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054078)

I have just got a proprietry scanner/ocr solution at work. I am limited in time but did investigate an open source solution for linux. But all i seemed to come accross was that "no OCR touches the commercial stuff". Indeed, some said, it can still be cheaper on a word/accuracy perspective to outsource to a typing service.

What I have done is use the Searchable PDF output and used linux to 1. Produce a gif thumb of the PDF, and 2.) Use pdf2text to put in a db.

The slowness frustrates me, I have much work to do on this.

A patent for this ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30054350)

According to this article on EETimes :
http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=221600886

"I filed the first patents on this technology and have been the leader of the design team," said Foss, the "inventor" of this device.

A patent for putting together in such bleeding obvious way two existing technologies like OCR and text to speech ?
It is as laughable as the absurd price. This is more like an iPhone app, hardly an "invention".

What a joke!!

Kurzweil makes Nokia N82 Based reader aleady (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30054714)

Kurzweil already makes the KNFB reader which runs on a Nokia N82 based phone. The package is about $1500.

http://www.knfbreader.com/products-mobile.php

Sad state of our country (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30055304)

Just wait until the book publishers get wind of this.

I predict pointless IP lawsuits up the ass :(

Book publishers already claim using a screen reader for the blind is a copyright violation, text-to-voice on ebooks being illegal (I hope Amazon squashes that lawsuit instead of settles), and bypass some form of access control that doesn't exist and thus is a DMCA violation too.

And this is why we can't have nice things

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"releasing a win" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30057038)

Really? They're releasing "a win"? That wording is "a fail". Get lost.

The cost is to gouge medical issurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30059682)

Just like those "power chair" commercials you see on TV that say they will get your medicare to pay for it. This device is no different. Massively overpriced and underpowered; trying to cash in on the visually impaired and their insurance.

An Android phone with a scanning attachment (or just a good camera) would have both the processing capability and the memory to extract text from images and run it through a text-to-speech engine.

I'm not anti-Intel, but this is just embarrassing.

- a legally blind software engineer -

Speed issues and distributed (cloud) computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30060478)

The device won't be speedy: "Intel says it takes about 30 seconds to process each page of text... It took... about 30 minutes to scan in the pages of a 250-page book and then one hour to process them."

The New York Times used Amazon's Cloud computing [nytimes.com] to create PDF's for a lot of their public domain files. And there's the PGP cracking efforts [slashdot.org] slashdot mentioned before.

Maybe Intel should tie this into a cloud computing based system that could distribute each scanned page to a new VM for processing. That way the pages could be prepared in parallel and loaded back to the system.

Ideally the result of the scanning process would be uploaded to Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, Google Books, and digital library efforts around the world, but first things first.

Another option would be to put the pages that are scanned into the ReCaptcha database.

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