Almost 200 years ago a book – one of the most precious things in the world – was inaccessible for blind people. In 1824 Frenchman Louis Braille invented a relief alphabet to bridge the gap in communication between the sighted and the blind. In 1930s first audio books were recorded. With the invention of computers speech synthesizers help visually impaired people to create new audio books themselves. All these achievements undoubtedly improved the life of the blind and reduced the gap, but never closed it.
A Korean company HonestVision made their contribution trying to close the gap: in 2011 the team launched SoriAn – an OEM product transforming printed documents into speech sound.
HonestVision is a Korean company specializing in the development of technical solutions for the people who cannot see at all or with low vision, the deaf and other groups of disabled people. The company has a various product range from pocket devices up to powerful stationary solutions.
The main goal of the new project called SoriAn was to create a personal device with the help of which a blind or visually impaired person could handle books, mails, invoices, etc. by him/herself. In practice, the scheme was simple as everything of genius: to scan different paper documents (whether it’s a book, a letter etc), and to transform electronic files into voice. The device had to be fast, easy to control and operate, have high quality speech results and handle different types of documents in Hangul, Hanja (Korean languages) and English.
For the hardware component of SoriAn HonestVision chose Cannon scanners. VoiceWare TTS software was meant to provide transformation of text into speech and export of the material into MP3-format.
In order to find a suitable OCR solution to recognize texts in Korean languages and English for further transformation into sound, the company addressed its proven partner and the most experienced expert in OCR technologies in Korea – ReTIA company.
Having among trusted partners ABBYY vendor ReTIA built the solution on the basis of ABBYY FineReader Engine, as the software supported the necessary languages and provided high quality and speed of document processing.
The ready product SoriAn helps visually disabled people to read fiction and professional literature and routine documents (mails, invoices, manuals, etc.) by themselves in everyday life.
Government Welfare Fund also got interested in the project and now sponsors blind people to purchase SoriAn products.
Today with the emergence of the non-discrimination law, all big hospitals must provide access to necessary medical documents and they do it with the help of SoriAn equipment. During their hospital visits, visually disabled people are able to read prescriptions and medical diagnoses right on the spot.
HonestVision, with the great support of ReTIA, fulfilled the task to make life of disabled people easier, and ABBYY fulfilled its mission to improve the quality of life.