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The Intel Reader is on the menu for the visually impaired

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week saw the unveiling of countless new e-readers eager to knock Amazon’s Kindle off its pedestal. One device that really stood out was the Intel Reader. Designed for visually impaired and dyslexic people, this gadget allows the user to take a photo of any text (menus, letters, magazines) and then immediately reads it aloud. Users also have the ability to download e-books and read or listen to them at their leisure.

While the Kindle shares the Intel Reader’s ability to read text aloud, this new device is unique because it allows people to read things other than typical e-books. For people with impaired vision, the ability to snap a picture of a restaurant menu, and either enlarge its text or have it read aloud is invaluable, providing a level of independence not previously possible.

Tracy Counts, the Intel Reader’s marketing manager, told the Guardian that the product’s developer is dyslexic and knows how hard it is to get printed text in a format he could listen to and understand. He went to the general manager of our group and pitched the idea, and Intel Health got behind it because it fits with the whole idea of digital health, which is helping people to be independent.

The $1,500 price tag is a deterrent, but the Guardian suggests that schools and libraries might find it a worthwhile tool. Over at Engadget, there is an informative video explaining all of the Intel Reader’s functions.

One Guardian commenter poses a good question: At the risk of sounding prejudiced here, how would a profoundly blind person, as opposed to visually impaired or partially sighted person, aim the thing?