Braille tool by IISc scientist wins award

Visually impaired people in the State can now take advantage of a new innovation from the labs of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), that helps in converting scripts and text into e-text. This can then be heard through any text-to-speech synthesis (TTS) software.

For this extremely useful innovation, the team of Shiva Kumar, a PhD scholar from the department of electrical sciences, won the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award, 2015. He was guided by Prof A G Ramakrishnan.

As part of the endeavour that started six years ago, Kumar and his guide developed an Optical Character Recogniser (OCR) for Kannada and also Tamil that converts scanned pages of a printed document/book into e-text.

Along with this, they developed a graphical user interface (GUI) called Print-to-Braille tool that enabled any person to quickly use the OCR to make corrections to the mistakes in the text.

By using their OCR along with the Print-to-Braille tool, family members or friends of visually challenged people would be able to scan any printed document without the need of any technical expertise and convert it into unicode text within a short time.

The visually challenged can then listen to that e-text through any TTS synthesis software. The e-text can also be converted into Braille codes and printed using a Braille embosser.     
Speaking with the Deccan Herald, Shiva Kumar said, “A visually challenged person who wants to access any printed material cannot do so easily. Most of the time, they can get the contents of the book either if a family member reads the book or if it is converted into a Braille document, both of which is time consuming. Through my technology, help is at ha­n­­d within a short time.”

Instituted by SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions), the award aims to recognise student projects that have strong social relevance.

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