The device, dubbed the FingerReader, is a prototype being developed at the MIT Media Labs.
It’s a simple idea — a tiny camera in the ring reads the text at the tip of the wearer’s finger and translates it into audio. Of course, where it gets complicated is all the technology needed not just to recognize all the words, but to determine when the reader’s finger has veered off course. When this happens, the wearer is alerted via a vibration in the ring.
The researchers tell the AP that they are not looking to replace Braille, but to give the visually impaired immediate access to the vast number of printed items that aren’t readily available in Braille.
For example, being able to read a form at the doctor’s office without having to rely on another person to read it to you, or to instantly be able to read the same magazine story that the person sitting next to you has recommended.
The developers also believe there are applications for the device in translating texts written in foreign languages.
A market-ready version of the FingerReader is still quite some time off, and there is no price point set on it yet. But the researchers believe it could be made available at a reasonable price to consumers when it does eventually go on sale.