The Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind have announced the knfbReader, a portable device capable of converting text into speech via an integrated camera.
The device, created by a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies and the US National Federation of the Blind, uses Kurzweil's text-to-speech processing engines to convert images of text captured by the knfbReader's camera into speech. Kurzweil Technologies were the people behind the first print-to-speech devices, dating back to the 1970s.
The actual knfbReader device is a Nokia N82 at the core, which includes a top-of-the-line 5mpx autofocus digital camera with a Xenon flash. Quite simply, the user captures a photo of the document they are having trouble reading (say, a book, letter, sign, etc), and the knfbReader software converts the image to on-screen text for better readability, and/or reads the text out loud.
Special modes for reading books, articles and labels, bills and memos are included to ensure the reliability of the knfbReader's text-to-speech engines. Using easily obtainable flash memory cards, the knfbReader can store thousands of pages for later reference. Approximately 500 images can be stored per GB of memory available.
The knfbReader has the ability to run supported GPS programs, access Adobe PDF files, the voice recorder, music player and many other core N82 applications.
"The knfbREADER Mobile will allow the blind unprecedented access to the printed word, affording a level of flexibility and capability never before available. No other device in the history of technology has provided such portability and quick access to print materials," says Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "This Reader will substantially improve the quality of life for the growing number of blind people and people who are losing vision, including seniors."
The knfbReader is due to be launched in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and the Pacific Rim sometime this month.
More information on the knfbReader and the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind can be found here: