We Want Reading Glasses for the Blind!

glasses LWe Want Reading Glasses for the Blind!

An Open Letter to the Engineers at Google Glass, Google Translate, Apple Wearables, Samsung, Microsoft and any other tech firm sitting on billions of dollars of cash you made selling luxury goods you paid pennies for: We Want Reading Glasses for the Blind!

We want glasses that can focus on documents and read them into the ear. How hard is that? It’s not hard at all. You have all the tools you need to build these glasses TODAY using existing software and hardware. You have a supply chain that could ramp up that production and kick out a pair of Reading Glasses for the Blind for everyone who needs them by Christmas. And you could do this for $100/pair and still make a profit.

So where are our Reading Glasses for the Blind?

Here’s how it works. You have a camera lens embedded in the glasses frame. Check. You point that camera at the document in front of your face and take a picture. Click. You scan that picture for recognizable text in a specific language. Whiz. You perform optical character recognition on the image and turn the recognizable parts into text. Bang. You use a reading program such as VoiceOver to read the text out of the earbuds. Bam! Call it Scan-to-Speech. Almost any Android or iPhone can do all of this easily.

So why don’t we have Reading Glasses for the Blind?

Right now, if I am blind, every sheet of paper has the same message. With Reading Glasses for the Blind, those sheets of paper suddenly come to life for the blind in the very same way that the mind of Helen Keller was ignited when she learned a symbol could sit-in for an object. We are talking about nothing less than making Every Document in (virtually) Every Language suddenly accessible to those who cannot see. Do you get it?

So when can we expect Reading Glasses for the Blind?

Now that you know it is within your power to massively change the lives of millions of people who cannot see, and give to those people the gift of being able to read any menu, book, magazine, invoice, pill bottle, currency, or other document set in front of them; now that you know you can open up every page of every library to those who can no longer read, don’t you have some sort of obligation to get this done before, say, some new ten thousand dollar wristband that doesn’t do squat?

We want Reading Glasses for the Blind!

We want them now. Before Christmas. And if you can’t get off your butts and get this done, then send a couple million over to the Staunton Media Lab and we will go into production before the new year. Because that’s where this idea came from. Not from me. Not from a Ph.D. engineer. It came from a 15-year-old cognitively-impaired, visually-impaired child who asked one day, “Why don’t they just put the OCR in Google Glass?” Out of the mouths of babes. Maybe the engineers at Google are not as smart as a 15-year-old, or maybe they never heard this idea before. Well, you’ve heard it now.

We Want Reading Glasses for the Blind — Now!

STEVE O’KEEFE, Director
Staunton Media Lab

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