Developed by European researchers, the RoboBraille service offers a unique solution to the problem of converting text into Braille and audio without the need for users to operate complicated software.
“We started working in this field 20 years ago, developing software to translate text into Braille, but we discovered that users found the programs difficult to use – we therefore searched for a simpler solution,” explains project coordinator Lars Ballieu Christensen, who also works for Synscenter Refsnaes, a Danish centre for visually impaired children.
The result of the EU-funded project was RoboBraille, a service that requires no more skill with a computer than the ability to send an e-mail.
Users simply attach a text they want to translate in one of several recognised formats, from plain text and Word documents to HTML and XML. They then e-mail the text to the service’s server. Software agents then automatically begin the process of translating the text into Braille or converting it into an audio recording through a text-to-speech engine.
“The type of output and the language depends on the e-mail address the user sends the text to,” Christensen says. “A document sent to email@example.com would be converted into spoken British English while a text sent to firstname.lastname@example.org would be translated from Portuguese into six-dot Braille.”
The user then receives the translation back by e-mail, which can be read on a Braille printer or on a tactile display, a device connected to the computer with a series of pins that are raised or lowered to represent Braille characters.
RoboBraille can currently translate text written in English, Danish, Italian, Greek and Portuguese into Braille and speech. The service can also handle text-to-speech conversions in French and Lithuanian.
Christensen notes that the RoboBraille partners are constantly working on adding new languages to the service and plan to start providing Braille and audio translations for Russian, Spanish, German and Arabic. They are also working on making the service compatible with PDF documents and text scanned from images.Up to 14,000 translations a day
As of January, the RoboBraille system had carried out 250,000 translations since it first went online.
The team have won widespread recognition for their work, receiving the 2007 Social Contribution Award from the British Computer Society in December while in April they were awarded the 2008 award for technological innovation from Milan-based Well-Tech.
In addition to the blind and visually impaired, the service can also help dyslexics, people with reading difficulties and the illiterate. The project partners plan to continue to offer the service for free to such users and other individuals, while in parallel developing commercial services for companies and public institutions.
“Pharmaceutical companies in Europe will soon be required to ensure all medicine packaging is labelled in Braille and we are currently working with three big firms to provide that service,” Christensen explains. “Banks and insurance companies are also interested in using it to provide statements in Braille as too is the Danish tax office. In Italy there is interest in using it in the tourism sector.”
The RoboBraille team, which recently received an €1.1 million grant over four years from the Danish government, expect the service to be profitable within four or five years.
And although they are not actively seeking investors, they are interested in partnerships with organisations interested in collaborating on specific social projects.
RoboBraille was funded under the EU's eTEN programme for market validation and implementation.
Ahmed ElAmin | alfa
Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers
20.07.2018 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
18.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences