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SeeScan Helps Visually Impaired I.D. Products

April 21 2009 | by

iVisit, a audio and video conferencing company, has developed a technology that works similar to how a bar-code scanner might be used by the visually impaired. But this version uses a mobile phone that can identify and speak a product’s name to visually impaired people, according to Daily Mobile Blog.

The technology, called SeeScan, can point at a bag of Doritos or a can of Pepsi and have the name read aloud to them. It can also read bank notes, including dollar bills. The technology would be a boon to the visually impaired, who currently must use a separate device to read bank notes, such as the Note Reader from Brytech. And separate bar-code scanners can cost up to $1,500, depending on the level of sophistication.

SeeScan’s concept is known as augmented reality, or a field that blends real world and computer generated data. The technology only works with packaged goods, but iVisit could conceivably create a huge database of products that can be found on grocery shelves and in drugstores.

There are approximately 11.4 million people with vision loss in the United States, ten percent of who are legally blind, says iVisit. The company claims it has tested the prototype with about 30 visually impaired users. It plans to release beta versions of the service in the U.S. later this year.

It will be available on major 3G networks and Windows Mobile phones including HTC 6800 (Mogul), HTC Flip, HTC Touch, HTC 6700, Samsung i760,Treo 700 Wx and LG Dominator. iVisit says it is working on Symbian and iPhone versions, according to Wired Gadget Labs.

One catch: Not all phones are accessible to the blind, for example, the iPhone isn’t accessible. People with vision impairments must use phones that work with screen readers, which both the Windows Mobile and Symbian platforms offer.

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