Earlier this month a friend sent us an interesting article from the Carnegie Mellon newspaper about a new technology developed on campus to make it easier for people who are blind to go shopping. According to the school's paper, the technology works as follows:

"Imagine a blind man walks into Entropy [Carnegie Mellon's campus store] and wants to pick up a bottle of mustard. As he walks past one aisle to another, he uses a UPC-reading Baracoda pencil integrated with his phone to scan the barcodes on the shelves under the products he browses. The Baracoda pencil contacts the UPC database through the Internet-enabled phone and identifies the product. The information returned to the phone is then read out by TALKS, software developed by Nuance that was installed in the phone."

Assuming the technology would be affordable, this could be really useful for people with vision loss. The team worked closely with a man who is blind on the project, and he gave the assistive technology rave reviews. I was very moved when I read this article, because there's something very heartwarming about students working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. According to the article, the team's next mission is to make the school's shuttle service friendlier to people with vision loss by keeping them informed of arrival times through text messaging. Hats off to Carnegie Mellon! We'll be following the team's progress.

Author Carl Augusto
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