iPhone App Converts Photos to Audible Texts

December 11, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. ease /iz/ (v.) – to lessen the difficulty of something
Example: Some mobile apps can ease people’s difficulties at work.

2. state-of-the-art /steɪt ʌv ði ɑrt/ (adj.) – having the most advanced qualities
Example: Apple and Samsung are two state-of-the-art smartphone brands.

3. commend /kəˈmɛnd/ (v.) – to recognize and praise something
Example: He commended the developers for the mobile app’s success.

4. rarity /ˈrɛər ɪ ti/ (n.) – refers to the quality of being uncommon
Example: The rarity of the program makes it costly.

5. life-changing /laɪf tʃeɪndʒɪŋ/ (adj.) – referring something that affects a person’s life in a big way
Example: The app is a life-changing invention for people with disabilities.


Read the text below.
An iPhone application is making access to printed materials more convenient to ease blind people’s difficulty in reading.

The Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader or the KNFB Reader creates an audio version of any text found in an image taken by a phone’s camera. Its creator is Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil [kurs-wahyl], in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind.

With the help of Apple’s state-of-the-art hardware and technology, the KNFB Reader can accurately convert a photo into speech. People can also read converted text through a Braille [breyl] display compatible with iOS.

Users who have tested the app were amazed on the app’s effectiveness. The KNFB reader can immediately identify text and read it out loud. Bryan Bashin, executive director of Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, commended the app’s usefulness in helping blind people do things that they usually struggle with. An example he cited is finding out if a coffee pack is decaffeinated or not.

The app’s perfection is the result of Kurzweil’s dedication. He started working on reading machines in the 1970s after being inspired by a blind person who complained about the rarity of optical-recognition technology at that time. The first reading machine he invented was big and expensive. As years gone by, his creation improved and has now led to an app that can be considered as life-changing.

Currently, the KNFB Reader is available only for iPhone 5 and its new versions. The app can be purchased from the App Store at $99. But Kurzweil said the app’s Android version will soon be released. Aside from smartphones, Kurzweil also plans to make a version for Google Glass.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the KNFB Reader’s price is reasonable? Why or why not?
·         In what occasions would the app be helpful? Kindly discuss.

Discussion B

·         What programs are done in your country to help people with disabilities?
·         What else can be done to help people with disabilities live more conveniently?

December 11, 2014