Navigating a world awash in textual cues can be difficult for people who are visually impaired. Reading braille helps, but only when the sign or book is available in a braille version. Other technologies, like optical character recognition devices, convert text to speech, but these tools are often very expensive, and very big, making them less useful when trying to get around in the world. A team at MIT's Media Lab are working on a new device which could, one day, vastly improve how the visually impaired interact with text.
This computer on a ring, known as the FingerReader, analyzes text and reads it out loud. The device starts working when the wearer traces their finger over a line of text—much as young readers do when they're just starting out.
The ring's operation seems to be a little janky, and there are questions about how, exactly, a blind person would be able to use it effectively. (The ring gives a buzz at the start or end of a line, and other layout cues, which would help.) In the video, the ring appears tethered to a computer. Maybe future versions could pair to a smartphone or other mobile device. But, for a prototype, the FingerReader certainly seems promising.