Tuesday, January 29

The Reader's getting better

Greetings. The Reader I'm referring to here is the new mobile reading solution from K-NFB Reading Technologies. The product is the secodn generation of the original K-NFB Reader released 2 years ago. This time, the reading software is housed in an off the shelf cell phone verses a non-accessible PDA. The cell phone approach is better and makes sense, since people are already carrying cell phones with them. Actually, if you go back in this blog's archives, back in 2005 I think, I posted an article about putting OCR software on a mainstream cell phone, and hinted at the possibilities of getting this to work for the blind. Alas, that reality might just be here.

In case you haven't heard of it, the new K-NFB Reader Mobile was announced yesterday at a demonstration in Washington D.C., at the National Federation of the Blind's Washington Seminar. The software runs on the Nokia N82 phone, which is one of those top of the line phones with lots of bells and whistles. However, they probably needed a top shelf phone in order to run the software. The entire package, with the phone and the software, will cost around $2,000, which in my view still puts it beyond the cost effectiveness for most blind people. The Reader Mobile software itself will cost $1595. Though, the original price for the K-NFB Reader back in 2006 was around $3500, so its gradually coming down. Personally, not meaning any disrespect against the software or what it can do, its a little impractical for me until the price dips down into the $500 or less range. Note that while you can buy the software and phone (the software will officially be released on February 15), the phone does not come with any screen reader, like Talks or Mobile Speak. In addition, the K-NFB Reader Mobile software only assists in the recognizing, storing, and managing of images and text, and it does not act as a screen reader. There is a company, Handy Tech, that is already offering a $2500 package including the N82 phone, the Reader Mobile software, and a Talks or Mobile Speak license. Also note that since the N82 is a top of the line phone, it has a top of the line price of around $570 or so, according to the Blind Bargains website. Here's another area that I'm waiting on, for the price of the phone to come down, or for other phones to be added that will run the Reader Mobile software.

If you'd like to hear an article done by NPR on the new software, then click here to read or listen to the 1/29/08 NPR story. Watch The Ranger Station blog and the Blind Bargains website in the coming days during the ATIA 2008 conference and in March during CSUN for more coverage on this new product. Enjoy.

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