[bookshare-discuss] Re: about the optacan

  • From: "Evan Reese" <mentat1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 07:23:42 -0800

No, it doesn't have a Braille display.  It has an array of very small vibrating 
pins which come up similar to a Braille display, but in the shape of the letter 
the camera is on.  As you move the camera, the pins rise and fall, giving a 
very good representation of moving across the page.  The original Optacon had 
an array of six vertical rows of twenty-four collumns.  The second version was 
shortened to five rows, if I recall correctly.  I have one of the original 

They did not come up with anything to take its place.  They stopped making 
Optacons about ten years ago or so.  They were made by Telesensory Systems, 
which was merged with some other companies to create Freedom Scientific a few 
years ago.  As far as I know, FS has no plans to resurrect the Optacon or 
create anything similar to it.

I remember hearing some time ago on the web about some research project or 
other to create something like the Optacon, but also with speech, but I haven't 
heard anything about that lately.  You might try doing a search on "Optacon 
Replacement", or something and see what you come up with.

Take care.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: shannon 
  To: bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 5:26 AM
  Subject: [bookshare-discuss] about the optacan

  Thank you for the answer. That does sound like a really great thing. It is 
too bad that they don't make it anymore.  What did they come up with to take 
it's place. I would think a toy like that would be in great demand? It sounds 
kind of like a CCTV only instead of a TV, it has a brail display. Do I have 
that right?

    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: Evan Reese 
    To: bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
    Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:02 PM
    Subject: [bookshare-discuss] Re: Just Downloaded My First Book for 

    Optacon is a - I forget the word for it - a condensed word meaning optical 
to tactile converter.  It uses a camera you move over the page with one hand 
and the print is converted into an image of vibrating pins which you read with 
the index finger of the other hand.  Very useful not only for reading print but 
also looking at raised-line drawings and graphs.

    Most people - including myself - can't read very fast with it, but it's 
great for short stuff and I use it especially for math, which doesn't scan 
well.  I also use it to check scanning errors that aren't obvious from the 
context on stuff I scan, and now on stuff I will validate.

    Unfortunately, the Optacon is no longer manufactured.

      ----- Original Message ----- 
      From: shannon 
      To: bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
      Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:03 PM
      Subject: [bookshare-discuss] Re: Just Downloaded My First Book for 

      Hello Evan,
      I have a kind of unrelated question I am on a couple of lists and 
recently I have heard Optacon allot. What is an Optacon?
        ----- Original Message ----- 
        From: Evan Reese 
        To: bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
        Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:04 PM
        Subject: [bookshare-discuss] Just Downloaded My First Book for 

        I just downloaded my first book for validation.  It's _In The Ruins_ by 
Kate Elliott, Crown of Stars Volume 6.  It was submitted on November 17, so 
it's been up there for a while.  The submitter put it in the Fair category, and 
by the looks of things, that's about right.  I've noticed quite a few errors 
just in the first few pages.  Also, the copyright information was not provided, 
so I put that in.

        I'm picking up a paper copy this afternoon from a local bookstore.  If 
it had been categorized as excellent, I might not have bothered, but I might 
have gotten one anyway - preferably from my local library - but they didn't 
have one.  I would prefer to have a paper copy in case there's a scanning error 
that I can't figure out.  I have an Optacon, so I at least don't have to ask 
someone sighted what's on the page if I run into trouble.  I've been wanting to 
read this book since it came out last August, though, so I'm going to read 
right through it.

        However, if the errors are too many and too egregious, I just may scan 
the whole thing in again.  It might come out better - my OpenBook does a pretty 
good job, especially with hardcovers and trade paperbacks.  It might be more 
effective timewise than trying to puzzle out garbled text.  Hopefully that 
won't be necessary.

        I'm a little nervous, this being my first book and all.  I hope I do 
things correctly.

        By the way, is there a keyboard shortcut for the Copyright symbol?  I 
just used alt-169 at the beginning of the book where it's supposed to be, but I 
was wondering if there is a keyboard combination for that?  Just curious.

        I also subscribed to the volunteer discussion list.  I was a little 
intimidated at first by the 50 messages per day figure cited on the website, 
but I figure that it may not be as bad as all that; it isn't as though I have 
to read all of them.

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