Could this be the next breakthrough in technology? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired. The FingerReader ring, developed by a group of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a new gadget that allows the visually impaired to have the independence to read.
“FingerReader is a device that assists visually impaired users with reading texts or words. It’s basically a ring the user wears on their index finger that houses a tiny camera and some haptic actuators for feedback” — Fluid Interfaces group, MIT Media Lab on FingerReader
Sure, we have audio books, but did you know that a report by The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has revealed that out of the thousand most best-selling ebooks in the U.K, 84% were available in blind-accessible formats, but only 0.23% of the most best-selling printed books are accessible?
“When I go to the doctor’s office, there may be forms that I wanna read before I sign them… Everywhere we go, for folks who are sighted, there are things that inform us about the products that we are about to interact with. I wanna be able to interact with those same products, regardless of how I have to do it” — 62 year old Jerry Berrier, who was born blind, on the Finger Reader
The slight downfall of the FingerReader is that while it can read printed materials, computer screens and other devices, it has issues with text on a touch screen.
Roy Shilkrot, one of the researchers who developed the gadget at the MIT media lab, explained that touching the screen with the tip of the finger would move the text around, causing unexpected results. He further mentioned that disabling the touch-screen feature could solve the problem.
Could this invention signal the end of Braille? Probably not. The team believes that the FingerReader requires adjustments before it can evolve into a reliable gadget like the writing system for the blind. If things go well (such as implementing other applications and making it faster) the team hopes that it will make a lot more content accessible to the visually impaired.
That said, the FingerReader is just a research prototype at this moment. If you’d like to stay in the loop, enter your email in the block of space to sign up for updates!