Wednesday, June 28

Another Article on the Kurzweil-NFB Reader

Greetings. The following article appeared in the Austin American Statesman, from the Associated Press. Enjoy.

Hand-held device helps blind people read

New reader has advantage of portability for restaurants, planes.

By Jamie Stengle
Monday, June 26, 2006

DALLAS — A whole new world opened up for Tommy Craig in the past few months as he tested a new hand-held device for the blind that converts print to audio.

With its help, Craig was able to "read" everything from menus to cooking directions by positioning the reader over print and taking a picture. In seconds,
the printed message is heard.

"The reader provides access to materials that a lot of times you just didn't read," said Craig, 51, of Austin, who was one of about 500 people with blindness
who tested the device. "It certainly makes you more independent."

Today, the rest of the world will know about the device when it's unveiled by the National Federation of the Blind.

"It's not quite like having a pair of eyes that work, but it's headed in that direction," said James Gashel, executive director for strategic initiatives
at the Maryland-based federation.

Developed by the membership organization of more than 50,000 people with blindness and inventor Ray Kurzweil, the device combines a personal data assistant
and a digital camera.

"This is really the hottest new technology to be developed for blind people in the last 30 years," said Gashel, who calls it "the camera that talks."

About three decades ago, Kurzweil came up with the first invention that converted text into audio. That gave way to software that could be paired with a
computer and scanner and perform the same function. But the latest device has a big advantage: portability.

The federation expects the reader, which costs about $3,500, to be a big hit at the organization's annual meeting, which will begin Saturday in Dallas.

It will be sold though through Kurzweil Education Systems Inc. and will be available via the Internet and in stores.

For now, those who have tested the reader have been able to read items they never have before, such as the magazines in the pockets of airplane seats.

Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, points out another advantage: "Sometimes you get something that you want to read that you
don't want anyone else to read."

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