ONE RING TO READ THEM ALL

finger readerA “FingerReader” under development at MIT is a scanner on a ring. With that, the computer will read to you as you pass your finger over a page or a book title. The computer speaks the words in a voice like a robot from an old sci-fi movie.  You — know — it — sounds —  like — this.

This “text to speech” feature has been standard on personal computers for many years, so that’s not what’s new. However, in order for the computer to read to you, it must first have the text onboard. You download a book or an article, or just have it read you your email. There are tons of books that can be brought into the machine, so this is not a big handicap. But the FingerReader is meant to read whatever you want, like a brochure offering you a free hotel stay if you listen to their exotic time-share vacation deal in an incredibly boring four-hour talk.

Would this be good for the blind? It has a feature for that. Since the moving finger tends to wander, the ring vibrates if it strays off the line. The FingerReader might also be used to translate languages. There’s a video of it at Techcrunch.com. It is a really klutzy clumsy looking device, but that’s the way everything starts out.

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