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Intel Unveils Reader For the Blind

The device, about the size of a paperback book, is designed for people who are blind, dyslexic, or have some other disability making it difficult for them to read.
Intel introduced a portable device that reads text aloud, for people who are blind or have other disabilities that make it difficult for them to read.

The Intel Reader, which is about the size of a paperback book, converts printed text to digital text and then reads it aloud to the user. The device targets the 55 million people in the United State who have dyslexia or other learning disabilities, or have vision problems, such as low-vision or blindness.

The Reader is powered by an Intel Atom processor and includes a high-resolution camera for taking pictures of text, which is then converted to a digital format. For large amounts of text, Intel offers a separate device called a "portable capture station" that makes it possible to use the Reader as a scanner for more quickly capturing and converting multiple pages from a book or large documents.

For people with low vision, the Reader's 4.3-inch diagonal display can zoom in and out of text, the size of which can be easily adjusted, according to Intel. The device weighs just over a pound and comes with 2 GB of storage for user data.

Intel's Digital Health Group developed the Reader, with the original concept coming from researcher Ben Foss, who was identified in elementary school as having dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes it difficult to read and spell. The disorder affects between 5% and 17% of the U.S. population.

"Feelings of loneliness are often the experience of not being able to read easily," Foss said in a statement. "We hope to open the doors for people in these communities."

Intel has identified healthcare as an industry ripe for the introduction of new devices that can make use of the chip maker's products. In April, for example, Intel and GE launched a partnership in which the companies pledged to spend $250 million over the next five years to develop and market products for the health care industry, particularly home-based technology for monitoring and diagnosing people with chronic illnesses.

The Reader has list price of $1,499 and is available through select resellers, including CTL, Don Johnston, GTSI, Howard Technology Solutions and HumanWare.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).