Friday, March 24, 2006

A real page turner

So, I've spent the morning researching products for my friend/client who has MS and can't use her hands. She has a computer with a voice-recognition software, and I suppose compared to most folks with an "input" disability ("input" meaning how she is able to relay commands to the computer) she actually gets by pretty well, considering the mouse and keyboard are useless to her. But we've talked a lot about the limitations of the software, as well as the difficulties of other tasks like simply wanting to read a book. Unless someone is on hand to turn the pages, she's hamstrung.

She asked if I knew of any electronic reading devices; she already reads pdf files of some books on her computer screen, but as she puts it, "I'm tired of watching TV!" She wants to hold a book in her lap like she used to do. The searches that I've done have had pretty dismal results. Sony did just come out with an electronic reader in January, which shows book text on the screen of a moderately-sized (and -priced) tablet. But you have to touch a button to turn the pages, and that's not possible. I dug some more, and found an electronic page turner that manually turns the pages of a book - for over $1000! It at least has the benefit of having a variety of non-touch input devices.

I also found a new voice-recognition software called QPointer Voice that supposedly works better at manipulating the computer interface, but it doesn't take dictation as well as her current product, Dragon NaturallySpeaking. *sigh* Where is American innovation? We thought Viagra was more important?!

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