Intel announced an innovative e-reader today that wants nothing to do with being a Kindle-killer. This e-reader, in fact, arguably has more educational implications than the current generation of e-readers. Intel's product, demonstrated below, is designed to turn written text into spoken words and can convert either text files or pages photographed with the built-in camera.
As Intel's press release describes it, the Intel Reader is
a mobile handheld device designed to increase independence for people who have trouble reading standard print. The Intel Reader can assist the estimated 55 million people in the U.S. who have dyslexia or other specific learning disabilities, or have vision problems such as low-vision or blindness, which makes reading printed words difficult or impossible. The Intel Reader, about the size of a paperback book, converts printed text to digital text, and then reads it aloud to the user. Its unique design combines a high-resolution camera with the power of an Intel® Atom™ processor, allowing users to point, shoot and listen to printed text.
The Wall Street Journal provides further perspective on the device:
...power users like to accelerate the playback speed to absorb more information quickly. The audio files can be converted to the MP3 format and transferred to computers and other devices. Intel plans also to offer a peripheral device called the Portable Capture Station, which looks a bit like a slimmed-down overhead projector and is designed to make it easier to shoot images of many pages quickly.
Unfortunately, the Reader runs almost $1500 a piece. For those who need it, it's a relatively small price to pay. However, educational institutions may find the price truly burdensome. At 30 seconds to process a standard page of text, the current iteration is fairly slow. However, a device that makes ordinary books accessible to those with substantial disabilities is worth a look; it's also worth a look within the next year as the price of components and the technology will undoubtedly come down.