ACB – Intel Read Aloud Reader

Got this on my ACB list. Another really cool product, another wad of cash needed.


Ben Foss was a bright kid, but as a student, he struggled with
reading even the
simplest text. Afflicted with severe dyslexia, he relied on
parents and tutors
to read him his homework since the words on the page made no
sense to him. At
Stanford, he managed to earn two advanced degrees by laboriously
scanning books
and then running them through synthetic speech software so he
could comprehend
the words.
As an adult, much of the content he wanted in professional
journals and
magazines wasn’t available in audio form.
So, when he was hired as a researcher at Intel, he vowed to make
designing a
reading device one of his first priorities. At CES 2010, his
brainchild, the
Intel Reader made its debut. “Feelings of loneliness are often
the experience of
not being able to read easily,” he says, based on years of
trying. “We hope to
open the doors for people who have dyslexia, blindness or other
The device, designed by Silicon Valley design shop, Lunar, for
Intel’s Digital
Health Group, is about the size of a paperback book or a
hand-held video game.
It works by taking a picture of a page of text, then converting
it to speech.
“It’s designed around the ergonomics of reading,” says Gretchen
director of interaction design, at Lunar. “It’s purposefully not
designed as a
digital camera. You can use it with your elbows on the table, at
the right
There are an estimated 55 million people with dyslexia, low
vision or blindness,
who find reading printed text difficult or impossible. In
addition to students,
the device is designed to be convenient for older people who find
it hard to
read restaurant menus or mail, and it has clever tactile cues,
such a corner cut
off like a dog eared book and buttons distinguishable by feel and
location, to
help the blind orient themselves.
A portable capture station allows users to scan larger amounts
of text, such as
complete books or journals. They can be saved, much as one would
with an ebook,
for listening later. The device comes with earphones for
listening privately, in
the car, or in class, and files can also be exported to MP3
The device has been endorsed by the International Dyslexia
Association and will
be available for about $1,500 through CTL, Don Johnston
Incorporated, GTSI,
Howard Technology Solutions and HumanWare. The capture station
costs an extra
“At CES, we see people who love their iPhones,” says Lunar’s
director of
engineering, Robert Howard. “When Intel demo-ed this, people who
have dyslexia
could see their futures change when watching the device. It’s
truly a
transformative device for people who haven’t had a lot of
transformation in
their lives.”
[Intel Reader]
Copyright Ággc) 2010 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights
Fast Company, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195


Filed under ACB, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff

6 Responses to ACB – Intel Read Aloud Reader

  1. I would definitely get the KNFB reader over this thing. For one thing, that goes on a phone, which I can use like…a phone! so, if KNFB goes on the fritz, at least I still have a phone. That’s way too much money for a device that only does one thing.

  2. I heard about this thing. It’s a cool idea, but I think I’d probably choose the KNFB Reader over it. It does all of that stuff, but it’s a software package you can install on a cell phone so not only do you have the thing that’ll take pictures of stuff with your cell camera and then do the OCR on them, but you also have a regular cell phone that you can use as your everyday phone so you don’t have to lug another thing around with you.

  3. Ro

    Yeah, the whole time I was reading it I thought about the KNFB. Thought it was interesting, nonetheless. Mostly because of the pricetag.

  4. Thanks for posting this article! I thought the Intel reader was a glorified VRS or something, but it looks like it might be nice to have. Too bad I have way too much tech I want and not enough money to buy it with. Oh well, what can you do? 😀

  5. Well, I’m an idiot. I forgot the KNFB Reader, and that product is probably a better deal. I haven’t seen one of those since the prototype came out a few years ago. I was impressed, but thought it rather unstable. I’m sure the KNFB Reader has improved a lot though since the early days.

  6. Yes it is, oh yes, yes it is. I got to play with one that was on an N82, and it had its fair share of issues sometimes, but goddamn it, it read a sign stuck to the wall of an elevator! How cool is that? It read chip bags, soup cans, crumpled up receipts, a cereal box, I just ran around my house making it read stuff. Me want KNFB Reader. Now! Waaa!

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