The Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO),Chandigarh,has designed a reading machine for the visually impaired that will help them read books,letters,magazines and other documents that are not in Braille without the help of a third person. CSIO is a premier national instrumentation research laboratory under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR),Government of India.
Translating text into Braille is not only time consuming but also very expensive, said Pawan Kapur,director,CSIO. Two different designs have been developed by a team of CSIO scientists headed by Dr H K Sardana,who conceptualised the instrument around four years ago. In the first design,a pair of high resolution cameras captures an image of the document using step-by-step scanning. A minimum of four such steps are required to scan an A4 page,while a book page may be covered in only two or three steps. The instrument takes 15 to 30 seconds to convert an A4 size printed document into speech. In the second design,a portable scanner (horizontal scan length of 210 mm) is used to scan the printed document as a whole. One can scan the document after connecting the handy scanner to USB1/USB2 and listen to the recognised text using headphones.
The instrument uses a controlling unit which converts the scanned image to text document using optical character recognition techniques and this text document is read aloud with the help of text-to-speech conversion. The controlling unit also comes with a keypad user interface with various options. With the help of nine keys one can modulate speech coming out of the instrument and can also navigate to various features. The user can also use a set of voice commands to operate the instrument. This portable system can also be battery operated.
The instrument was demonstrated at Institute of Blind,Chandigarh. We are planning to approach government agencies and NGOs for partnerships, said Kapur.