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Texie for iOS: Does it Work as Advertised?

This morning, I discovered an app called Texie for iOS. The app claims to be able to perform quick text recognition, kind of like the Short Text mode of Seeing AI. It’s free do download, but, in order to perform scans, you must purchase credits, which start at $0.99 for 100 scans. You get a few extra credits with this purchase (I think I received 10 extra, giving me 110.)

The app is a bit misleading, however. There are no instructions when you start it for the first time, only a blank home screen for VoiceOver users. There are tabs across the bottom: Home, Settings, IAP (the screen where you can purchase credits), and Info.

The home tab allows the user to scan. Although blank to VoiceOver users initially, the app will emit beeps when it thinks it’s recognized text. The trick is to find the button that “text found, click screen to read” button. This cannot be found by flicking left and right, and the user must use explore by touch to locate it. If, however, the user turns VoiceOver off, they can tap anywhere on the screen other than the tab bar at the bottom to recognize the text. Once the text starts to read, there is no good way to stop it other than using a two finger double tap to start other media or going to the home screen.

The settings tab allows the user to replay the last scan, change the mode from single to multipage, or clear the current pages. Unfortunately, there is no way to adjust the speech rate or voice.

The IAP tab allows the user to purchase more scan credits. Finally, the info tab explains a little about the app.

In conclusion, I don’t really believe this app, even with its claim to read well written handwriting, is worth the price with the availability of Seeing AI and KNFB Reader. The OCR is not as good as the other two, and it does not automatically read as Seeing AI does. The accessibility is a little iffy, and it uses online OCR, which just isn’ helpful with a slow data or WiFi connection. The app is fairly new, and my hope is that it will continue to improve and find its place among its competitors.

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iA Cast iA DemoCast

#iACast DemoCast 11 – Scanning App Showdown

On this episode of the iA DemoCast, Aleeha demonstrates the following apps for scanning print to digital text as OCR. Find out which apps work the best on different forms of text.

Apps used

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Tactile Will Translate Text to Refreshable Braille

If you listen to the IA cast, you’ll probably remember me mentioning something about a device called Tactile. But what is it, and why am I excited about it? Read on to find out.

What Is Tactile?

Tactile is a device in development by six MIT students. Chandani Doshi, Jialin Shi, Bonnie Wang, Charlene Xia, Tania Yu, and Grace Li. The idea is that Tactile, by way of a camera, will translate print into braille. It will be about the size of a Candy bar, have thirty-six cells, and they hope to have it cost around one-hundred dollars.

Here’s How it Would Work.

You’d slide the device over printed text, such as that found on a book, a restaurant menu, or a packaging label, etc. The camera captures images of the words and sends them to a micro controller. Then, text recognition is performed. The information from the images taken by the camera, would cause the pins in the display to move via an “electromagnetic activation mechanism.” Just like other Braille displays, the Braille characters would refresh as you scroll or pan through sections of text.

The Effect on the Assistive Technology Field.

I think the idea of Tactile is really exciting, both for real reasons, as well as my own ideas. Let’s start with actual reasons. As all of us are aware, buying a Braille Display isn’t exactly cheep. While that’s starting to change with displays like the Orbit Reader 20, the projected price point of Tactile is even lower, and it would give you the ability to read print. Unlike apps like KNFB Reader, which I love by the way, Tactile would be a dedicated device, that can give you more than KNFB Reader can on it’s own. Braille, and for about the same price. I can see Tactile starting, or helping push forward, a lower cost Braille display revolution, which would not only give us more affordable options, but start manufacturers competing on a more unique feature set. This could only be a good thing for us as consumers. This brings me to my ideas. Keep in mind that I don’t really have evidence to support them, and they are my own. So I’ve talked about Tactile translating print into Braille. That, we know. But I’d like to see it become a Full fledged braille display, with USB and Bluetooth support in the future. I’d like to see it have support for screen readers across all platforms so that anyone using Narrator, NVDA, JAWS, or any other screen reader and windows, could have access to affordable Braille. The same would be true for VoiceOver users on the Mac and Apple’s other iDevices, Android users, people who use Orca in Linux, and any other screen reader and OS combo I’ve not mentioned here. Having cursor routing buttons and a braille keyboard for input would be amazing as well. But Even as it is, I can see Tactile starting a trend the Braille display market hasn’t seen in thirty years.

Want To Learn More?

You can find out some great information about Tactile and the team behind it by checking out this Mashable article. You can also check out a great Podcast from Cool Blind Tech where they’re interviewing Charlene Xia.

Conclusion

I wish Team Tactile the best of luck in bringing there device to market. But even if it doesn’t happen, the idea is still out there, and they’ve already proven that it’s possible. What do you think? Let us know on FaceBook, Twitter, and everywhere else you can find us around the web.