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Dec. 7, 2015

Student-developed app to help blind; part of MSU Design Day

A team of Michigan State University engineering students has developed an app that will benefit the visually impaired.

It’s called Intelligent Real World Text Recognition and is one of hundreds of undergraduate student projects that will be on display at this Friday’s College of Engineering Design Day.

The event is from 8 a.m. to noon in the Engineering Building.

Developed for use on Windows 10 devices, the app will take a picture, recognize what it is, and then perform a task – such as reading it out loud, which is particularly helpful for the visually impaired or someone learning to read. It is also helpful for anyone needing to collect and store units of information.

The app scans the environment and captures text it can recognize. For instance, if the text is a phone number, one click and the app will call the number, or begin to compose an email, or search for a Twitter hashtag.

“It has good accessibility for those who can’t see or those with a print disability,” said team member Jordyn Castor, who has been blind since birth. “There is good keyboard navigation, too. I use a keyboard rather than a mouse and it works very well.”

The team originally got the idea from its corporate sponsor TechSmith, an Okemos, Michigan, company that is a leading developer of screen capture, video capture and editing software.

Other team members are Max Miller of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Debayan Deb of Kanpur, India; Whitney Mitchell of Alto; and Cody Pearson of Hudsonville.

Design Day Executive Director Wayne Dyksen said Design Day teams also learn how to present their ideas to clients, defend their ideas and think on their feet.

“Those are the skills they will need when they leave MSU and start their careers,” said Dyksen, a professor of computer science and engineering. “Deadlines for the projects also are very demanding. Milestones must be completed on time – and graduation hangs in the balance.”

Design Day is the culmination of the senior-level capstone courses that are required for graduation from the College of Engineering. It showcases the outcomes of the courses, where students apply all the knowledge and experiences gained during their engineering education at MSU.

By: Tom Oswald