Intel just announced the Intel Reader and no, it’s not an eBook, it’s actually much more useful than an eBook in some ways. The Intel Reader is a Healthcare device that has been designed to help those with vision/blindness issues or learning disabilities (Dyslexia), which makes reading difficult. Intel estimates that this concerns 55M people in the USA. It has a camera that can translate text in pictures into ASCII text that can be read out loud by the computer (thanks to an Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, engine). In some ways, it is a new “eye” for those who can’t see. Of course, it is possible to download text documents (simple text files, no complex files like .PDF or .DOC) or audio files (.wav) on the device.
The Intel Reader isn’t there to compete with consumer devices like the Kindle. The Kindle has been designed for entertainment purposes, and although it has a text-to-voice function, its user interface is definitely built for users who can see.
Instead, the Intel Reader has been built to make those with disabilities more independent. Because of that, it has been designed to fit their unique needs. I’ve seen a demo of the Intel Reader, and while it is difficult for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who can’t see, or someone who has learning disabilities, I was impressed by the demonstration. I can tell that the industrial design and the user interface have been thought through, thanks to a long period of test with hundreds of users.
The Intel Reader is not perfect: it can’t recognize hand writing, and doesn’t yet work internationally (the latter is coming soon. But it is quite amazing that it makes it possible in a relatively simple way to grab a menu in a restaurant or a random document, and to turn it into text for immediate audio translation.
Here are the technical highlights:
- Atom CPU
- 4.3″ LCD display, 5 Megapixel Camera
- 4GB of storage
- 2x USB, audio Jak
- 6-Cell battery (4 hours of text-to-speech, 5 days in standby)
- Supported formats: Daisy 2.02, NISO 2002, NISO 2005, NIMAS 1.1, Mp3, Wav, ASCII text
- For more information, head to intel.com/healthcare