Speed Reads


High-tech finger ring can read to the visually impaired in real time

People with impaired vision may soon be able to immediately read books, magazines, menus, and computer screens, thanks to an audio reading device being created by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The FingerReader prototype was made with a 3D printer, and is worn like a ring on the index finger. A tiny camera inside the FingerReader scans text, and a synthesized voice reads the words. Software tracks the finger movements, and the FingerReader will vibrate if a person goes off the page. "It's like reading with the tip of your finger and it's a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now," Pattie Maes, an MIT professor who founded the research group working on the device, told The Associated Press.

Scientists have spent three years on software coding and trying out different designs, but the FingerReader still needs to be able to work on touch screens. There's a potential market of 11.2 million people in the United States with vision impairment, including 62-year-old Jerry Berrier. Born blind, Berrier says he would like to use the FingerReader to scan medical papers and other important documents. "Everywhere we go, for folks who are sighted, there are things that inform us about the products that we are about to interact with," he said to The Associated Press. "I wanna be able to interact with those same products, regardless of how I have to do it."