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EYE on CHINA
Chinese scientists develop cheap e-notebook for the blind
Chinese scientists have developed and tested a prototype electronic notebook for blind people that is designed to be cheap to manufacture.

The e-notebook, called B-Notes, allows people to take notes or memos using Braille or by recording speech. It is similar in size to a mobile phone.

B-Notes makes use of technologies developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), including translation software.

Prototype e-notebooks were trialled on ten blind people.

Wang Xiangdong, technical leader of the ICT team that developed the device, says that Braille can be conveniently input using a panel on the e-notebook. “And when [B-Notes is] connected to a computer, the Braille-Chinese translation software can be used to convert Braille into Chinese characters automatically,” he says.

Currently, there are almost 39 million blind people in the world, according to the WHO. And according to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, there are more than 12 million visually disabled people in China.

Wang tells SciDev.Net that the basic technological research for the e-notebooks has been completed and they are expected to be available in China later this year at a cost of RMB500 to 800 (around US$80 to $130).

The e-notebook has three main features. First is the Braille input. The e-notebook’s input panel has an array of mini keys that allows users to type.

Second is the intelligent translation system, which is up to 95 % accurate. When the e-notebook is connected to a computer, pre-installed software moves all Braille in the device over to the computer and translates it into Chinese characters.

Third, the e-notebook has a voice interface. There are voice prompts to guide users through the device’s various operations.

Currently, the notebook can only translate Chinese Braille to Chinese characters. But Wang says that if other countries express an interest in the device, it will be possible to produce e-notebooks that translate other versions of Braille into other languages.

The blind people who tested the prototype notebooks told developers that they found them portable and easy to use.

A spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, which is sponsoring the e-notebook’s development, says the notebooks could support blind people in their everyday working and living.

Li Jiao
Source: Science Development Network

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Credits to: American Chemical Society
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APBN Editorial Calendar 2015
Trends and Predictions for 2015 Robotics in Healthcare Nutrition Universal Health Coverage
Start-Up Biotech Companies Preventative and Translational Medicine Biofuels ASEAN Economic Community and Asia's Life Sciences Industry
Big Data: Healthcare and Drug Development Antibody Engineering in Japan Christmas Edition
APBN Editorial Calendar 2016
Korea's Biotechnology Industry Nutrition and Allergies: Are we, Too Clean? Medical Devices and Technology: Innovation that leaves an Inspiration Tobacco Smoking: The 'Real' Cost of One Cigarette
Life-Saving Opportunities: A Guide to Regenerative Medicine Occupational Health Water Technology Olympics: Evolution of Sports
Respiratory: Seasonal flu viruses
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