Introducing The OCR Ring, A Fancy New Blindness Product That Might Actually Be Worth A Crap

Unlike that horrible EchoSense thing that Carin tore apart the other day, these text scanning ring people seem to be on the right track when it comes to developing a product that the blind population actually needs and may want to use.

The prototype FingerReader fits like a ring on a user’s index finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. Special software processes scanned words and a synthesized voice immediately reads the text aloud.

Reading is as easy as pointing a finger at the text. The device also has vibration motors and other cues to help users read in a straight line.

The MIT researchers behind this thing’s creation or at least the reporter who spoke to them claim that the device will be “affordable,” but didn’t answer the compared to what question. If they’re going by the old Kurzweil/OpenBook standard, it’ll be nice to find something for under a grand or so. But I hope they understand what a lot of the traditional companies are starting to find out. That there’s more competition in this space now thanks to Smartphones and that today’s affordable isn’t the affordable of even five years ago. In that context, paying even $100 for the new KNFB Reader seems more than a little bit nuts.

But cost aside, this really does seem like a handy thing…as long as you can somehow use headphones with it. How did Carin put it when she sent me the link?

Dear Carin:

The following are the results of your STD panel…oh dear, I didn’t know what that paper was!

I wish these folks well, and I’d really like to try one of these out sometime. It feels kind of nice to have the chance to say that about a new blindness product. I don’t get to do that very often, which I think says more about people’s silly impressions of us than it does about me.

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