DS based reader for the blind

[Epokh] has release some homebrew software that uses a Nintendo DS as a voice reader for documents. This is extremely useful for blind and visually impaired folks who normally use screen readers but can utilize this technology for reading books, documents, and email on the go. Future versions look to add an email client and implement OCR via the camera for reading documents on the go.

The flite package is utilized to provide the text to speech functionality. We’re familiar with this package and judging by the video after the break, it lost nothing in the port to the DS hardware. [Epokh] pointed out that similar readers can cost $1500 when a DS sells for around $130. We can’t wait to see the final version fleshed out!

Comments

  1. babble says:

    I don’t know if I just qualify as being lazy, but I often find it hard to concentrate long enough to read more than a few paragraphs so text to speech is really useful for me..

    I like the idea of this project.

  2. 013 says:

    This is a pretty neat hack! It might also end up being useful for kids or adults learning to read, as it would let them hear words they already know the sound of matched up with what they look like in text. One more educational use for the DS.

    Does it handle languages besides English? This could end up being something handy to use to train people to read new languages as well, with the text in another language, English matched up with it, and the sound of both. This would combine those “Learn Language X” tapes with “Learn Language X” books, all on a DS.

  3. Paul says:

    I was born legally blind(visually imapired) and have been this way all my life. I like the idea of this. Software and readers are way over priced for blind users. Thanks for this hack. :) How would one go about doing this? I have a DS but it is not “hacked” in any way….it is stock. hat do I need to “unlock” a DS lite?

  4. Andy says:

    Nice one! Easy and affordable by anyone, can be useful not only for the blind people :)
    Hey I think I recognize your accent… :P

  5. Jim Foster says:

    @Paul – so when someone says they are “legally blind” that means their eyesight is just really, really poor right? (sorry to show my ignorance)

    That’s really a cool concept… I wonder what it would take to license this and everything. I wonder if a software concept of this could work on an iphone or droid phone.

    The whole trouble with custom stuff like the reader they talk about replacing is that it’s so expensive. There’s just not the market to allow huge production to take the price down.

    As an engineer, I’m always amazed that something like a DVD player can be bought for $30 just because of the economics of scale, but if I build something custom (and just one of them) like that… I can’t even imagine the price.

  6. Paul says:

    @Paul – so when someone says they are “legally blind” that means their eyesight is just really, really poor right? (sorry to show my ignorance)

    That’s really a cool concept… I wonder what it would take to license this and everything. I wonder if a software concept of this could work on an iphone or droid phone.

    The whole trouble with custom stuff like the reader they talk about replacing is that it’s so expensive. There’s just not the market to allow huge production to take the price down.

    As an engineer, I’m always amazed that something like a DVD player can be bought for $30 just because of the economics of scale, but if I build something custom (and just one of them) like that… I can’t even imagine the price.

    Posted at 5:19 pm on Nov 30th, 2009 by Jim Foster

    Yes, I can see, but do not have much depth perception, can not drive, use 10X prism glasses to read, sit 6-9 inches away from a 22 inch LCD, etc. :) I can play a DS with those 10X glasses and with the thing stuck very close to my face. :0 It is the strangest thing, but Linux is easier for me to use than Windows and better (IMO) for the “blind” and far cheaper.

  7. Jim Foster says:

    @Paul- Wow, that’s pretty poor eyesight… Well, you can’t argue with Linux being cheaper. I keep meaning to try using it, but it’s hard to argue with Windows software compatibility.

  8. Paul says:

    I am a simple person so for that purpose I use XUbuntu. It is a clean and stripped down interface. Ubuntu is using Gnome which looks better than XFCE and it you want “bling” like Windows Aero then try KUbuntu which uses KDE for its GUI. It looks nice and works well. I prefer XFCE as the GUI simply because it is clean with no frills. :)

  9. pelrun says:

    Neat – flite’s a fantastic tool, and I’m surprised nobody attempted an NDS port before now.

    I think it’d be neat to add this to one of the NDS IRC clients – maybe I should get off my ass and do it? :)

  10. cynic says:

    @Paul You’ll want a something like an Acecard2 and a micro SD card. There’s no physical hacking required to get a DS to run proprietary software. Just pop your, for example, Acecard in the DS in stead of a game cart, copy the software that comes with it and the reader program onto the SD card then pop that into the DS cart.

  11. Paul says:

    I tested this with my R4 card on my DS. Works fine but the volume is a little low.

  12. Graham says:

    This is the sort of development that wins awards for ‘best assistive technology’. Lets see this released!! I am blind and own some the excellet but expensive kit that does the same sort of thing as described here. It would be great to see it affordable to all and running on standard hardware.

    If you want a beta tester, give me a call!

  13. Nanners says:

    Does anyone know what might cause mydsreader to display “No files to open.” when it loads up?

  14. pollopoo says:

    Nanners you need to have a directory called books with some .txt files inside. Make sure books is in the root folder and the app is in the root as well.
    Let me know if you manage.

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