[accessibleimage] Re: Imagine Cup, Kurzweil-NFB Reader, Black Sun, art sculpture park

Lisa,

The portable OCR solutions probably won't have good enough resolution to
read small text.  Consider that a 5 megapixel digital camera will have
approximately 5 million pixels on a 8x10 photo.  A flatbed scanner these
days has roughly 600 dpi which adds up to 360,000 pixels per square inch
which gives us 28,800,000 pixels on an 8 x 10 and OCR still struggles with
very small text.  In theory, your idea of putting image description next to
a picture is pretty sound but I think the practicality of both OCR
performance and the enormous memory foot print required for such high
resolution imaging is probably still a few years away.

Nikon has a 30 megapixel digital camera and you can put many gigabytes of
memory into an iPAQ these days but this puts you into an insanely high price
category as the Nikon alone costs something over $20K.  Of course, as
Moore's law continues, memory gets cheaper and Nikon's competitors (Minolta,
Olympus, Canon, etc.) start increasing the resolution of consumer cameras
(the Nikon is really intended for medical laboratories) we should see some
super hi rez devices in the coming years.

The Nikon is roughly equivalent in granularity to Kodachrome, the finest
color film ever made.  As people who use film based cameras have mostly
moved to high speed, lower resolution films, everyone has grown used to
viewing lower resolution photographs.

OCR works by searching for edges in an image and then rendering them using
an fft algorithm.  It then uses some very sophisticated pattern recognition
algorithms to determine if something is a character or just schmootz.  Very
small text presents a problem as a filter designed to remove speckles and
other crud that may appear on the paper might think it is dirt or dust on
the lens and remove it before the edge detection and OCR is even executed.

The despeckling and clean up work done as a preprocessing action before the
OCR gets involved serves two purposes: it removes things that OCR should not
try to interpret and, as a consequence, saves a lot of time in the compute
intense fft and pattern recognition algorithms.  If you look at the
programming tools made by a company like Lead Tools, you'll see all kinds of
cool image processing stuff that programmers can put into their software.
In OpenBook, for instance, FS uses a number of these and I'd assume that
KESI does as well.

Sorry for getting geeky and depressing, it's my birthday which I find to be
a bit sad every year.

Enjoy,
cdh

-----Original Message-----
From: accessibleimage-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:accessibleimage-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Lisa Yayla
Sent: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 11:07 AM
To: accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [accessibleimage] Re: Imagine Cup, Kurzweil-NFB Reader, Black Sun,
art sculpture park

Hi Chris,
Wonderful!
When I read about the the Kurzweil-NFB Reader I thought that perhaps 
this type of tool could also affect other things. The question of 
graphics, I was thinking about a solution for putting descriptions of 
pictures on the page. Picture description, in a very small font size, 
could be placed in a fixed area of a newspaper, magazine, etc and than 
the camera could read it. This additional text could be printed very 
small so that it wouldn't take much space.The reader would know to check 
say the lower left hand corner for descriptive text. I saw a example of 
very fine text, where a few sentences of it looked like a line and one 
needed a magnifying glass to read it. If such text would be placed in 
the same place.  Graphics could also be done this way, a line map could 
be made very small, read by the camera, user takes it home, blows it up 
and embosses it out. To do such a thing would be dependent upon printing 
techniques. What do you think?
Your tool sounds like it will also be very popular with everyone sighted 
as well as visually impaired.

Best,
Lisa

Chris Hofstader wrote:
> Hi,
>
> As a user of such technology, I really do not find the new KESI/NFB reader
> to be too terribly exciting.  Basically, it's an iPAQ with a Canon digital
> camera duct taped to it.  Yes, it's more portable than a scanner but its
> ergonomics are really miserable.  At $3K it is also ridiculously
overpriced
> for yet another single purpose blind guy ghetto product.
>
> In full disclosure, though, I must admit that our team at UF, along with
our
> friends at HP and an unnamed OCR company are building something very
similar
> that will run on any Windows Mobile device (iPAQ, Dell Axim, etc.).  The
PDA
> devices with a camera built in will use that as its input, others can
> wirelessly connect to a blue tooth digital camera (an increasingly large
> number of them are showing up on the market every month). 
>
> Thus, a user can purchase the PDA of their choice ($250-1200 depending
upon
> how many features they want), a copy of the MSP screen reader ($600 full
> retail), a digital camera ($150 if not already built into the PDA) and the
> software we build to be marketed by a third party at around $250 for a
whole
> lot less than the single purpose Kurzweil product.  As we are using the
same
> OCR engine as they are, our quality should be identical but the users will
> have access to a boatload of additional things they can do with their
> devices.  Also, if they pick a PDA with a camera built-in, the entire
system
> will fit very comfortably into one's breast pocket.
>
> Enjoy,
> cdh 
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: accessibleimage-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:accessibleimage-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Lisa Yayla
> Sent: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 3:39 AM
> To: accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx;
> art_beyond_sight_learning_tools@xxxxxxxxxx;
> art_beyond_sight_educators@xxxxxxxxxx; Art Beyond Sight Theory and
Research;
> art_beyond_sight_advocacy@xxxxxxxxxx; artbeyondsightmuseums@xxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [accessibleimage] Imagine Cup, Kurzweil-NFB Reader, Black Sun,
art
> sculpture park
>
> Hi,
> 2 articles from Microsofts Imagine Cup, one from Brasil and one from 
> India. And an article about the exciting Kurzweil-NFB Reader from NFB. 
> Movie review of "Black Sun", and article about art sculpture park.
> Regards,
> Lisa
>
>
> Imagine, Gates, maps
>
> http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/03/stories/2006070303511300.htm
>
http://news.com.com/Students+dream+up+tech+help+for+health+care/2100-11393_3
> -6089190.html
>
>
http://www.ifctv.com/ifc/insiderNews?CAT0=5827&NID=17108&CLR=orange&BCLR=FF6
> 600
>
>
http://www.nj.com/living/times/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-0/1151208340526
> 90.xml&coll=5
> http://www.gizmag.co.uk/go/5792/
>
> Indians' sonic map impresses Gates
> Redmond: Watching a demonstration of visionary software ideas that can 
> transform health care at his Redmond headquarters, Microsoft Chairman 
> Bill Gates was sufficiently impressed by the concept of a sonic map 
> presented by an Indian student team to help the blind, to ask the 
> accessibility group of Microsoft to take a look at it.
>
> "I have never seen something like this," he said, when Deepak Jagdish, a 
> student of the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and 
> Communication Technology (DA-IICT), Gandhinagar, explained to him the 
> navigation and processing system that he and his team members were now 
> perfecting to improve the quality of life of visually impaired people.
>
> The DA-IICT team, made up of Deepak, Rahul Sawhney, Shreyas Nangia and 
> Mohit Gupta, has been working on the sonic map, which it calls `Sonique' 
> or `Dhwani, for the Imagine Cup 2006 competition hosted by Microsoft. 
> Their software design can potentially help visually impaired people 
> "see" the environment around them, complete with objects in a spatial 
> sense.
>
> Snapshot of surroundings
>
>
> The system, inspired by echolocation used by bats, is designed to emit 
> ultrasonic impulses generated by proximity sensors that have a minimum 
> range of five metres and process the signals to create a `sonic 
> snapshot' of the surroundings.
>
> Where there is no object, there is no feedback. Positive signals 
> bouncing off objects are conveyed via blue tooth technology to a mobile 
> device and translated in real time into sound frequencies. These results 
> are available to the blind person through headphones connected to the 
> mobile.
>
> The Indian students' entry is among those short-listed for the global 
> Imagine Cup finals to be held in August in Agra, also involving over 70 
> teams in different categories. The results will be announced in Delhi.
>
> Accessing the mouse
>
>
> Among the promising spin-offs from the project is the opportunity for 
> blind people to use the computer mouse. This can be achieved by giving 
> the monitor screen `grid' values that translate into sound. The 
> variation in sound is evident when the mouse is moved vertically and 
> horizontally. "The goal is to build an all-in-one explorer for the 
> blind, which will help them access all programmes from a centralised 
> navigation system on the screen," explains Deepak, who was the sole 
> representative for his team at Redmond.
>
> Other members of the team could not make it to the presentation for Mr. 
> Gates in the U.S. for various reasons. Besides the Microsoft Chairman, 
> Mr. Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice-president, and Mr. Joe Wilson, 
> group product manager, both from the developer and platform evangelism 
> group of Microsoft and other senior executives also witnessed the demo.
>
> The Imagine Cup this year saw about 68,000 students register worldwide 
> with a tally of 11,000 competing in the event. The finalists vie for 
> $125,000 in prize money in the multi-category competition that 
> encourages talented young programmers showcase their ideas using 
> Microsoft programming platforms.
>
> Other teams
>
>
> The Indian entry is built on the .Net compact framework for software 
> modules to connect to a central server and the Windows Mobile 5.0 for 
> the Sonique application.
>
> Other teams that demonstrated their ideas to the Microsoft Chairman were 
> from the United Kingdom, the U.S., Germany, Japan and South Korea.
>
> "Amazingly, the world still has a shortage of great engineers who write 
> software. You would think we are overwhelmed with great people because 
> we get to do the most fun work in the world, but somehow a lot of people 
> still don't recognise that. So your opportunity is very strong because 
> the need for your kind of skills certainly exceeds the supply," Mr. 
> Gates told the students, reminding them that Microsoft has a "huge R and 
> D culture" and an allocation of $6 billion a year for the activity.
>
> Tablet PCs
>
>
> Giving an example of an idea flowing from that vision, he talked of 
> tablet PCs for students that would connect wirelessly to the Internet 
> and eliminate the need for textbooks.
>
> Speaking about the Indian team's experience in producing a Sonique 
> prototype, Deepak Jagdish said there was a two to three week delay in 
> importing some pieces of hardware, such as the digital compass.
>
> "We are improving the accuracy of the device all the time in 
> consultation with the National Association for the Blind, Ahmedabad, and 
> others. We hope to be ready 15 days before the finals," he added 
> optimistically.
>
> 2006 The Hindu
>
>
>
>
>
> http://www.news.com/
>
> Students dream up tech for health care
>
> By Ina Fried
>
http://news.com.com/Students+dream+up+tech+for+health+care/2100-11393_3-6089
> 190.html 
>
>
> Story last modified Thu Jun 29 04:57:30 PDT 2006
>
>
>
> Inspired by his blind grandfather, Ivan Cordeiro Cardim has been working 
> to develop a better way for the visually impaired to find their way 
> through unfamiliar surroundings.
> His system, developed over the past eight months with a small team of 
> fellow Brazilian college students, combines GPS technology with a set of 
> wristbands to alert the user when it is time to turn.
>
> "It works like a map for blind people," Cardim said in a telephone 
> interview. "Through vibrating wristbands, they are given directions."
>
>
> On Wednesday, the team got a chance to show their idea to Microsoft 
> Chairman Bill Gates, and to present him with a Brazilian soccer jersey. 
> Gates tried on the wristbands and inquired how the team had got them so 
> small.
>
> Cardim's team is a finalist in Microsoft's Imagine Cup, a 4-year-old 
> invention contest that will be judged in August in Delhi, India. About 
> 65,000 people were involved in this year's entries, and about 300 are 
> representing their countries in the finals. Microsoft invited a handful 
> of the finalists to show their projects to Gates on Wednesday.
>
> All of the projects have to use Microsoft technology in some way and 
> have to relate to health, this year's theme.
>
> An Indian team showed Gates a different approach for helping the blind 
> navigate, and aims to replicate the kind of echolocation that bats use 
> to find their way. Among the other projects Gates checked out were an 
> exercise-monitoring program from South Korea that uses a motion detector 
> to measure the effectiveness of exercise, and another from a Japanese 
> team whose medical information management software is designed to reduce 
> medical errors.
>
> Big ideas
> For Microsoft, the Imagine Cup is a way to encourage young people to 
> pursue technology careers and to use its technology.
>
> "It's sort of the DNA of Microsoft--young people with big ideas," said 
> Joe Wilson, Microsoft's director of academic initiatives. "We want to 
> continue to inspire that."
>
> Plus, the students all use Microsoft technology. The Brazilian project, 
> for example, used Windows' speech-recognition programming interfaces, 
> the MapPoint mapping service and Visual Studio developer tools to help 
> visually impaired users get where they want to go. The wristbands use 
> GPS technology and Bluetooth wireless to communicate with a nearby cell 
> phone or Pocket PC that can process a spoken destination request.
>
> Cardim said he walked away very impressed with the Microsoft founder.
>
> "He cares about what we are doing," Cardim said, noting that Gates 
> already gets plenty of attention. "He is stepping down from Microsoft in 
> a couple of years just to do social and charitable work."
>
> And while Microsoft is giving plenty of money to the Imagine Cup 
> winners--a total of $125,000 in cash prizes--Cardim said his interest is 
> in making his project a reality.
>
> "We're not just doing this for the competition, and we're not doing it 
> for the money either," he said. "We'd love to see our project working, 
> and there is no better way to do that than to get it to our users."
>
> If the Brazilian team can make it to the final six, they stand a good 
> chance. The top half-dozen teams will be flown by British telephone 
> giant BT to England and given an opportunity to try and land business 
> backing for their ideas.
>
> Several past Imagine Cup finalists have commercialized their entries, 
> including a Greek team that finished in second place last year with 
> Sign2Talk, a combination of software and hardware that translates sign 
> language to spoken words and vice versa. The inventors recently raised 
> about 600,000 euros ($753,218) from the Greek government and private 
> investors.
>
> "They are going to start a whole company," Microsoft's Wilson said.
>
>
>
> excerpt article FESTIVAL: Top 5 Reasons to go to the Newport Film Festival
> Gary Tarn's Best Doc Award-winning "Black Sun" in which artist and 
> filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert tells his own story of being blinded 
> during a mugging and learning to live and travel and create art as a 
> blind man;
>
>
>
>
> article
>
> Special program helps blind get feel of art at sculpture park
> Sunday, June 25, 2006
> BY BRENT JOHNSON
> Baseemah Shakir rubbed her hands over the brown marble rabbit, trying to 
> guess what she was feeling.
>
> "This must be the ear," she said with a sense of wonder.
>
> Shakir then came to a conclu sion that made her giggle.
>
> "He's a fat one," she said, smiling.
>
> Shakir hasn't had many chances to make such a discovery since losing her 
> sight five years ago. Though she always enjoyed visiting art museums, 
> many galleries won't allow her to touch the exhibits.
>
> That, however, wasn't a problem on a recent Saturday, when Shakir and 66 
> other blind or visually impaired people were given the opportunity to 
> discover plump rab bits and other awe-inspiring sensa tions at Grounds 
> for Sculpture in Hamilton.
>
> The museum and outdoor sculpture park allowed the visitors to touch a 
> number of the pieces on display in an event to promote Braille literacy.
>
> The event -- a joint venture between Grounds for Sculpture and the New 
> Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped -- served as a kickoff to a 
> permanent tour the museum will now offer to visually impaired patrons.
>
> "You don't know how frustrating it is to go through a museum and have 
> everything say, 'Please Do Not Touch,' " says Holly Westefeld, who, like 
> Shakir, traveled from Egg Harbor on a bus to attend the event. "This is 
> wonderful."
>
> The museum has offered similar tours before, but never on this level, 
> said Brooke Barrie, director and curator of Grounds for Sculpture. 
> Patrons can now call ahead to schedule one of two tours -- each with 12 
> sculptures picked specifically for their distinct textures, materials 
> and designs.
>
> The museum hired a mobility instructor to map out the tours and train 
> the guides who will give them. The tour also will include Braille 
> handouts with information about the pieces.
>
> The project began in November, when Venetia V. Demson, then the director 
> of the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped, approached 
> Grounds for Sculpture in hopes of working together to develop art 
> literacy among the area's visually impaired community. Coincidentally, 
> the museum had been thinking of something similar.
>
> "We had wanted to develop special tours for the blind and visually 
> impaired and they wanted to extend their outreach to the arts," Barrie 
> says. "So it was really kind of a perfect marriage for the two 
> organizations to get together."
>
> Vito J. DeSantis, executive di rector of the state Department of Human 
> Services Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, stressed that a 
> project like this is important on two levels: first, to show visually 
> impaired people that they can enjoy the arts; and, second, to show 
> others that visually impaired people aren't limited in what they can do.
>
> "With alternative ways or techniques, they can enjoy and participate in 
> the same activities as do sighted people," DeSantis says. "And you can't 
> give that message often enough because, by extension, then other 
> opportunities become possible."
>
> Those in attendance at the special Saturday event proved DeSan tis' 
> message as they ran their hands over the sculptures, giddily telling 
> their friends and family what they were touching.
>
> "It's wood, I think," Westefeld said, crouching down to the ground as 
> she felt the bottom of a giant wooden sculpture of two horns. "I'm not 
> sure what to make of that one. I have no idea."
>
> At a nearby workshop where patrons got to touch sculpting tools and 
> materials, Suzanne Woolpert encouraged her son, Brian, to explore the 
> items laid out on the table.
>
> "This is a hammer -- like Daddy uses," she said to the 7-year-old, who 
> promptly picked up the tool and banged it on the table.
>
> "My son is very interested in art and this is a new art form for him," 
> says Woolpert, who is also visually impaired. "So this is very new and 
> exciting to him."
>
> Soon, Brian was rubbing a piece of sandpaper across the side of a block 
> of white marble.
>
> "I got a whole side flat," the first-grader said.
>
> As Brian exemplified, a project like this can also do wonders for 
> visually impaired children.
>
> "It's part of a blind person being in the world, like everyone else," 
> says Carol Castellano, president of Parents of Blind Children New 
> Jersey. "So if a blind child is exposed to a literacy medium, like 
> Braille; and independence medium, like the cane; and art and literature 
> and movies -- everything that every other kid is exposed to -- then you 
> get a well-rounded, normal person that's integrated into the community 
> and views him- or herself as just like everyone else."
>
> As the visitors filtered through the museum lobby, eager to reach for 
> the next sculpture, Demson proudly beamed at the project she helped 
> bring to life.
>
> "This museum is one of New Jersey's treasures," she said, "and I think 
> it's very important that people know about it in (the blind) community 
> because it's sculptural art and they have the opportunity to put their 
> hands on it and get a sensory description in their minds -- let their 
> imaginations understand what a piece of sculpture looks like."
>
> And even if patrons like Westefeld couldn't quite figure out what they 
> were touching all the time, they still came away with a few new 
> discoveries.
>
> "Did you see the rabbit?" Westefeld said, walking away from the wooden 
> sculpture that confused her. "The rabbit was really cute."
>
>
> article
>
> The Talking Camera - new handheld electronic reader will change the 
> lives of millions
>
> June 27, 2006 There are 174 million visually impaired people in the 
> world, accounting for approximately 2.6 percent of the population, with 
> around 0.6% being completely blind. We can hardly imagine how overjoyed 
> these people will be to hear of a groundbreaking new device that has 
> been announced by the United States National Federation of the Blind 
> (NFB) - the Kurzweil-NFB Reader. The handheld machine was developed by 
> NFB and renowned inventor Ray Kurzweil, and enables users to take 
> pictures of and read most printed materials. Users hold the device over 
> any print document (such as a letter, bill, restaurant menu, airline 
> ticket, business card, or office memo) and in seconds they hear the 
> contents of the printed document read to them in a clear synthetic 
> voice. Combining a state-of-the-art digital camera with a powerful 
> personal data assistant, the Reader puts the best available 
> character-recognition software together with text-to-speech conversion 
> technology in a single handheld device. "The world of the printed word 
> is about to be opened to the blind in a way it has never been before," 
> said NFB President Marc Maurer. No other device in the history of 
> technology for the blind and visually impaired has provided quicker 
> access to more information. Readers go on sale July 1 for US$3,495. 
> Download a brochure here. The invention will once again focus public 
> attention on the inventive mind of Ray Kurzweil which has made 
> significant contributions to human knowledge in the areas of optical 
> character recognition, music synthesis, virtual reality, and artificial 
> intelligence - read about his remarkable career here.
>
>
> "The NFB promotes a positive attitude towards blindness," said Maurer, 
> "and this Reader will make blind and visually impaired people 
> dramatically more independent."
>
> "The result will be better performance at work, at school, at home, and 
> everywhere else we go. This Reader substantially improves the quality of 
> life for the growing number of blind and visually impaired people."
>
> The Reader offers people quick access to information, is portable, and 
> can store thousands of printed pages with easily obtainable extra 
> memory. Also users can transfer files to their desktop and laptop 
> computers or to their Braille notetakers in minutes. The Reader has a 
> headphone jack as well, so users do not have to disturb others in close 
> proximity.
>
> The National Federation of the Blind helped fund the development and 
> production of the Reader and helped plan and design its user interface. 
> As many as 500 NFB Pioneers across the country have piloted the Reader 
> during the beta-testing process and these users have been absolutely 
> thrilled with the capabilities of the Reader.
>
> Gary Wunder, a computer programmer analyst with the University of 
> Missouri Hospitals and Clinics in Columbia, Missouri, said: "This little 
> machine has completely changed my awareness about the print around me 
> and has given me access that I never dreamed possible before. It is 
> amazing to go to a public event and actually read the program, to go to 
> a work meeting and be able to read the handout which someone has 
> forgotten to send to me in advance. What a thrill it is to take a 
> business card and get the information from it quickly enough to remember 
> why I took the card in the first place. For the first time in my life I 
> looked at the magazines in the seat pocket of a commercial airliner, and 
> reading a restaurant menu is awesome."
>
>
> The Reader is the result of a joint venture between the NFB and Ray 
> Kurzweil, chief executive officer of K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc. 
> Kurzweil, who has been dubbed the Thomas Edison of the 21st century, is 
> an inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist. Kurzweil was the chief 
> developer of the first omni-font optical character-recognition 
> technology, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the 
> first CCD flatbed scanner, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the 
> first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other 
> orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed, 
> large-vocabulary speech recognition engine. In 1999, Kurzweil received 
> the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in 
> technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony.
>
> The Kurzweil-NFB Reader costs about the same as many flat screen 
> televisions today, with an expected retail price of US$3,495, and yet 
> has the power to revolutionize a person's life. Sales will be handled by 
> Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., based in Bedford, Massachusetts, and 
> its national distribution channel of dealers. The Reader's convenient 
> size, simple design, and powerful technology deliver unprecedented 
> access to printed matter. After several minutes of practice, users can 
> begin accessing a wealth of print information in ways they never have 
> before.
>
> James Gashel, NFB's Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives, said: 
> "Every year 75,000 more people will become blind or visually impaired in 
> this country. As America's aging population soars over the next few 
> decades, so too will the incidence of visual impairment and blindness. 
> The Reader will help not only blind individuals, but older Americans who 
> wish to stay independent and age with dignity."
>
>
>
> The National Federation of the Blind helped fund the development and 
> production of the Reader and helped plan and design its user interface. 
> As many as 500 NFB Pioneers across the country have piloted the Reader 
> during the beta-testing process and these users have been absolutely 
> thrilled with the capabilities of the Reader.
>
> Gary Wunder, a computer programmer analyst with the University of 
> Missouri Hospitals and Clinics in Columbia, Missouri, said: "This little 
> machine has completely changed my awareness about the print around me 
> and has given me access that I never dreamed possible before. It is 
> amazing to go to a public event and actually read the program, to go to 
> a work meeting and be able to read the handout which someone has 
> forgotten to send to me in advance. What a thrill it is to take a 
> business card and get the information from it quickly enough to remember 
> why I took the card in the first place. For the first time in my life I 
> looked at the magazines in the seat pocket of a commercial airliner, and 
> reading a restaurant menu is awesome."
>
>
> The Reader is the result of a joint venture between the NFB and Ray 
> Kurzweil, chief executive officer of K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc. 
> Kurzweil, who has been dubbed the Thomas Edison of the 21st century, is 
> an inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist. Kurzweil was the chief 
> developer of the first omni-font optical character-recognition 
> technology, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the 
> first CCD flatbed scanner, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the 
> first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other 
> orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed, 
> large-vocabulary speech recognition engine. In 1999, Kurzweil received 
> the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in 
> technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony.
>
> The Kurzweil-NFB Reader costs about the same as many flat screen 
> televisions today, with an expected retail price of US$3,495, and yet 
> has the power to revolutionize a person's life. Sales will be handled by 
> Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., based in Bedford, Massachusetts, and 
> its national distribution channel of dealers. The Reader's convenient 
> size, simple design, and powerful technology deliver unprecedented 
> access to printed matter. After several minutes of practice, users can 
> begin accessing a wealth of print information in ways they never have 
> before.
>
> James Gashel, NFB's Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives, said: 
> "Every year 75,000 more people will become blind or visually impaired in 
> this country. As America's aging population soars over the next few 
> decades, so too will the incidence of visual impairment and blindness. 
> The Reader will help not only blind individuals, but older Americans who 
> wish to stay independent and age with dignity."
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>   




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