TIME Innovation

WATCH: This Ring-Shaped Device Reads Text to the Blind

Hot off the presses of a 3-D printer, a prototype that could open the world of letters to the blind

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Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a ring-shaped device that slips around a user’s pointer finger, scans any text above the fingertip, and reads it aloud in a robotic voice that could help open the world of letters to the visually impaired.

The FingerReader is still just a prototype, hot off the presses of a 3D-printer. It comes with an embedded camera that pinpoints words, a clipped robotic voice that reads them aloud as the finger moves across the page, and motion sensors that can detect when the finger strays off of the text or hits the end of the line.

Researchers hope the proof of concept will attract investors and smooth the pathway to commercialization, which they say could help roughly 2.8% of the population that currently lives with visual impairment.

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