[AI] Cell Phone Can Read Documents for Blind

Surender Chaudhry smchaudhry at gmail.com
Fri Feb 1 01:38:45 EST 2008

Thank you for the information.
Good luck
S M Chaudhry

On 1/30/08, Shiv <shivraheja at gmail.com> wrote:
> The Associated Press
> Last Updated: January 28, 2008 00:21:02
> BALTIMORE (AP) - Chris Danielsen fidgets with the cell phone, holding it
> over a $20 bill.
> ``Detecting orientation, processing U.S. currency image,'' the phone says
> in a flat monotone before Danielsen snaps a photo. A few seconds later, the
> phone
> says, ``Twenty dollars.''
> Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, is
> holding the next generation of computerized aids for the blind and visually
> impaired.
> The Nokia cell phone is loaded with software that turns text on
> photographed documents into speech. In addition to telling whether a bill is
> worth $1, $5,
> $10 or $20, it also allows users to read anything that is photographed,
> whether it's a restaurant menu, a phone book or a fax.
> While the technology is not new, the NFB and the software's developer say
> the cell phone is the first to incorporate the text-to-speech ability.
> ``We've had reading devices before,'' Danielsen said, noting similar
> software is already available in a larger handheld reader housed in a
> personal digital
> assistant. Companies such as Code Factory SL, Dolphin Computer Access Ltd.
> and Nuance Communications Inc. also provide software that allows the blind
> to
> use cell phones and PDAs.
> Inexpensive hand-held scanners such as WizCom Technologies Ltd.'s SuperPen
> can scan limited amounts of text, read it aloud and even translate from
> other
> languages.
> However, the $2,100 NFB device combines all of those functions in one
> smart phone, said James Gashel, vice president of business development for
> K-NFB Reading
> Technology Inc., which is marketing the phone as a joint venture between
> the federation and software developer Ray Kurzweil.
> ``It is the next step, but this is a huge leap,'' Gashel, who is blind,
> said in a telephone interview. ``I'm talking to you on the device I also use
> to
> read things. I can put it in my pocket and at the touch of a button, in 20
> seconds, be reading something I need to read in print.''
> Ray Kurzweil, who developed the first device that could convert text into
> audio in the 1970s and the current NFB device, said portability is only the
> first
> step. Future versions of the device will recognize faces, identify rooms
> and translate text from other languages for the blind and the sighted.
> The inventor plans to begin marketing the cell phone in February through
> K-NFB Reading Technology. The software will cost $1,595 and the cell phone
> is expected
> to cost about $500, Kurzweil said.
> Dave Doermann, president of College Park-based Applied Media Analysis said
> his company is working on similar software for smart phones that could be
> used
> by the military for translation and by the visually impaired.
> ``We don't anticipate ours being that expensive, but unfortunately we're
> not quite to the release yet,'' said Doermann, who is also co-director of
> the University
> of Maryland's Laboratory for Language and Media Processing.
> Doermann said the company, which has received funding from the Department
> of Defense and the National Eye Institute, hopes to have its software ready
> in
> the next 12 to 18 months.
> Kurzweil's device uses speech software provided by Nuance, said Chris
> Strammiello, the director of product management at Nuance, who said the
> company has
> also developed a prototype reader that uses the Internet to access more
> powerful server-side computers.
> ``As you can harness the power of remote environments and do that so
> quickly with the Web technologies, it gives a lot more capability,
> flexibility and
> options to the way you solve these type of problems,'' Strammiello said.
> There are about 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the U.S.,
> a number that is expected to double in the next 30 years as baby boomers
> age.
> Kurzweil said those with vision problems are not the only ones expected to
> benefit from the technology. Dyslexics, for example, are expected to be
> among
> the users of the current device because of its ability to highlight each
> word as it's read aloud, helping them cope with their disability, which
> affects
> the ability to read. The highlighting function can also help them improve
> their reading skills, he said.
> ``What's new here is both blind people and kids can do this with a device
> that fits in their shirt pocket,'' Kurzweil said.
> Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said the
> device and its PDA predecessor are a ``form of hand-held vision'' that will
> make
> the visual environment ``much more readily available to the blind.''
> National Federation of the Blind: http://www.nfb.org
> K-NFB Reading Technology Inc.: http://www.knfbreader.com
> Kurzweil Technologies Inc.: http://www.kurzweiltech.com/ktihome.html
> Applied Media Analysis: http://appliedmediaanalysis.com
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