The FingerReader is a wearable prototype device that helps in reading printed text aloud. The device was in the news this spring, 2014. Dr. Pattie Maes and the researchers at the MIT Media laboratory designed the prototype by using 3D-printing technology. Users scan a text line with their finger and receive audio feedback of the printed words. The device also provides feedback such as start and end of line, new line, and other cues.
The FingerReader is not only a good tool for visually impaired persons that need help with accessing printed text, but also it can be an aid for early English readers and the elderly. MIT researchers think it can also be implemented to include language translation features. This would be helpful for travelers visiting different countries. When FingerReader becomes available to public, it will be a good finger-wearable device for these needs.
The FingerReader device reminds me of some other portable reading options. For example, various scanner reading pens, which users trace the text by the pen to get feedback. However, often the accuracy of the feedback relies on the user’s operation of the pen such as properly tracing the word or the text line. Mobile apps for scanning and reading are also available on the market, but the accuracy of feedback relies on positioning of the document, lighting, and holding the device with steady hands. I hope that the FingerReader device will be robust and able to offer ease of use with accurate output, and a pleasant audio text feedback (not so robotic) when it becomes available.
FingerReader (Fox News – July 2014)