Mobile Device As Seeing Eye

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 04:00 AM with 2 comments

Whenever we talk about usability, computers and their software mostly come to mind. But how about a restaurant menu? Where some may be unorganized or in a different language, to someone who is visually impaired, it may not even appear at all. Rather than having to have someone read it to you, new software for mobile devices can do it for you.

An article appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe featuring such reading software, as well as one of the owners of it, my good friend (and The Hot Iron frequent commenter) Peter Alan Smith. Over the years I have gotten to know Peter as well as his challenges with using technology which most people take its use for granted. I have had the opportunity to help Peter with installing JAWS, a popular screen reading software, onto his Windows notebook, as well as watching him surfing the Web.

Such a device and software break down many barriers. The software was developed by technology futurist Ray Kurzweil and runs on a Nokia N82 mobile device, and can be carried in his pocket as he would carry any phone. Within a minute of taking a picture of text, a computer screen or even currency, he can have the information read to him. Where I have never seen this in action personally, Peter described it in detail that gave me enough to envision it.

I have always said that technology advancements to help those who are given a moniker as “disabled” will have far-reaching uses beyond those people. As I write this post, I am wearing reading glasses that, after 30+ years of looking at computer screens, I now need to have. And at close reach is a wrist strap in the event the mild tingling in my hands that could be early signs of carpel tunnel occurs. Maybe I should pick up a copy of Dragon software to speak future posts, or just podcast them?

Cheers to Peter on this great article for an even greater person!

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