Introducing the FingerReader: A Real-Life Decoder Ring with Real-Life Applications

Picture someone reading with her finger tracing the words on the page.

It is a simple task that many of us do every day. More specifically, it is something that sighted people do every day. Soon, though, blind people may be joining the finger pointers. According to Springwise, an MIT research team has created a ring that is outfitted with a camera that can scan, print, and read it aloud.

The FingerReader will be a functional decoder ring. It even tells the wearer if they are at the end of a line, beginning of a paragraph, or ready to turn the page. If the reader strays off of the printed line, the ring sends a vibration to get the reader to point the finger back into place. reports that there have been apps that have performed similar tasks, but those would read large areas of text at one time, and the user could not interrupt the app once it had started to read. With the FingerReader, the blind will have the ability to control the technology, able to read as much or as little as desired.

Anything that gives people independence and control over their lives is a significant contribution from science. Instead of being limited to braille books, the blind would be able to read any book that they wanted. They would also be able to read menus as well as any other printed material in the public domain.

This kind of intention has a wealth of possibilities ahead of it. It’s been suggested that this design could be used as a translation device. Or, the ring could be helpful in teaching children how to read. The researchers are also looking into other applications for this technology.

As of now, the FingerReader is still a prototype with issues that need to be resolved — such as making the FingerReader able to read touchscreens. Investors are needed to further the research and bring this product to market, which we can only hope happens soon.


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