[Athen] Intel Reader
ea at emptech.info
Wed Jun 9 13:37:21 PDT 2010
I wrote an article for the British Dyslexia Association on the subject.
Several students tried the device at the University of Southampton and as
has been mentioned the OCR was good especially when used on the stand. It
was fiddly to fix the camera into the slots and each connection had to be
put in place separately - not easy for those with dexterity difficulties.
The carry case was also not that easy to open up and make ready for A4/A3
sized papers etc, but worth the effort as the scanning of columns and odd
fonts was good. Some students found it hard to keep the camera steady and
sometimes pictures were skewed. The voices were not very comfortable for
some of the listeners and the menus muddling and took time to get used to.
It would have helped to have had an egg timer type of app to show when
things were happening as it was all too easy to think the OCR was not
working away and come out of the program.
The plastic carry case was labelled with the word 'health' some the students
felt this was unfortunate.
Those students who mentioned how it might help with their reading
difficulties due to dyslexia also said they sometimes used their mobile
phones to capture data. There is a program that can be used in a similar
fashion called Captura Talk http://www.capturatalk.com/
Hope this helps.
Best wishes E.A.
Mrs E.A. Draffan
Learning Societies Lab,
ECS, University of Southampton,
Tel +44 (0)23 8059 7246
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of Sean J Keegan
Sent: 09 June 2010 20:33
To: Alternate Media; Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] Intel Reader
> I was wondering if anyone had any experience using the Intel Reader,
> especially with a student who is blind?
I visited with several members of the Intel team that developed the Intel
Reader about a month ago. I did not use it extensively, but did get to play
with it briefly (so there may be some things that I missed).
For the most part, it basically does exactly what it says - it will take a
picture of a single page (or both pages) of a book and then immediately
begin the OCR process. Once that has been completed, the information will
be read back to the individual.
In terms of an individual who is blind, all the menus are self-voicing and
there is built-in text-to-speech functionality with the ability to vary the
speaking rate. For a blind individual to take a picture, the Intel Reader
team demonstrated one method where the user would hold the camera in their
hands and then move the camera upward until the user's elbows touched the
sides of the book. They did several demonstrations and, while I was
initially skeptical, it did seem like it worked. Of course, you would want
to avoid wearing baggy sleeves when trying this method.
There is also a stand that will hold the Intel Reader at a pre-determined
height (called the Intel Portable Capture Station) and allow you to set a
textbook in a holding tray. Think of this as a basic scanning system for
books that you would not want to chop. The Intel Reader folks said they
could process a 100+ page book in about 10 minutes (that is, just taking the
All in all, the device worked well and the OCR functionality was
*really* good from just a camera photo. While there are some limitations
with the OCR capability (e.g., no math support), I think it is mostly inline
with what alternate media specialists have been dealing with for some time.
You can also dump text and DAISY-formatted materials onto the device and it
will be read to you as well. The on-board storage is only 2GB for user
data, so you need to be careful what information is being added to the
> I tend to think it's a nice gadget for reading a menu > or a hand out,
but would not work well for the > typical college textbook.
I do think there is a place for such a device in higher education.
Where that place is, however, is open for debate. It could be very useful
for someone who needs an immediate, on-the-spot, reading device and does not
have the ability to wait for a document to be processed - this is it's
strength, IMO. Alternatively, the materials may not be easily available in
an electronic format in a school library (and cutting the spine is not an
option). For those colleges/universities that offer foreign exchange
programs, this could be a handy device to ensure alternate format access
when a computer is not readily available or the environment is not suitable
(e.g., archaeological dig but the student still needs to read daily
handouts, updates, etc. while onsite - yep, been there).
That being said, the cost is a bit of a barrier at $1500 and with the alt
format support infrastructure at a college/university, I personally think
most students would choose a laptop plus portable device over just the
Reader (once again, if price was an issue). I do think it has a niche, but
it may not be something that is necessary for all institutions or
appropriate for all students.
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