A new smartphone app that allows blind people to listen to an audio readback of printed text is receiving rave reviews and is being heralded as a life-changer by many people. Blind people say the KNFB Reader app will enable a new level of engagement in everyday life, from reading menus in restaurants to browsing handouts in the classroom. The $99 iOS app is the result of a four decades-long relationship between the National Federation of the Blind and Ray Kurzweil, a well-known artificial-intelligence scientist and senior Google employee. Kurzweil, who demonstrated the app on stage at the NFB's annual convention in June, said it can replace a "sighted adviser."
Taking advantage of new pattern recognition and image- processing technology as well as new smartphone hardware, the app allows users to adjust or tilt the camera, and reads printed materials out loud. People with refreshable Braille displays can now snap pictures of print documents and display them in Braille near-instantaneously, said NFB spokesman Chris Danielsen.
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