Braille writing system was a breakthrough invention for 1829. Even more so since the first attempts at its creation took place already in the Renaissance and Erasmus of Rotterdam was one of the first people meddling with the issue. Currently, we are in a sort of Renaissance – but a technological one. I think trying to create something better than protruding patterns on paper are quite a breakthrough now, as well. (Though in 200 years they’ll probably look just like these Renaissance lead casts :))
Point and listen
FingerReader is a ring which you put on your index finger, and it scans the printed text to read it aloud. The device is equipped with a mini-camera which recognises the words using special algorithms and then sends them to a speech synthesiser. The ring is so smart that it ‘knows’ where a line ends, and signals it with vibrations. It also ‘remembers’ what it has just read, and thus doesn’t repeat itself.
This is just a prototype, but the team from MIT Media Lab Fluid Interfaces Group promises to continue the research so as to make FingerReader a commercial product.
Both the blind and visually-impaired people will finally be able to buy and read normal, widely available books. I see also the gadget’s potential when it comes to learning foreign languages.
And, of course, it is a gadget for the lazy ones 😉