John Galloway is captivated by CapturaTalk
This is very clever technology. Take a photo of a piece of text with your mobile phone, then have it read out loud to you. If you're not sure what a word means, just pause when the yellow scanning highlighter gets to it, then click on an icon to have the dictionary definition pop up and read out.
It’s very useful for people who may struggle with text - whether due to a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, sight problems or perhaps being new to English. It is a tool designed to sit in your pocket, ready to be pulled out when you get stuck, whether reading a menu, a paragraph from a newspaper, a set of instructions or text on a web page or email.
The potential is good. CapturaTalk, created by iansyst Ltd, does not seem too fussy about font size, case, or colour scheme, either. It runs on devices that use Windows Mobile 5 or later, with 2M cameras, and 65 MB of storage - although the better the specification, particularly of the camera, the more accurate the technology will be. And accuracy can be an issue. (An iPhone version is under consideration.)
A good camera helps, as does clean, crisp printing, with the paper evenly lit and on a level plane, and the lens held steadily and evenly. Even then some inexplicable errors can occur. Having taken the photo the section to be read is selected with a stylus, and the play button clicked. While a good, clean, image will often provide an accurately read text, there are also occasions when invisible characters are attributed to white spaces, or letters are misread - the "j" and the "t" in "subject" both read as "pipe," for instance, thus making the word incomprehensible, and the text gobbledegook.
Much of the time this can be resolved by resetting the reading area, or taking the photo again. But not every time, which can prove frustrating, particularly if it is the key word in a phrase. However, CapturaTalk will also happily read texts elsewhere on your phone - on web pages and in emails for example.
Overall it is hard not to be impressed by the cleverness of this concept, support always available in an easy to use, highly portable form. However, to really make your jaw drop this clever technology needs to become a bit smarter about making sense.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 3.5
Ease of use 4
Value for money 3
Software, education price £195
Mobile phones from £250
Captura Talk is eligible for VAT relief for people with a disability. More information on eligibility and how to claim at www.dyslexic.com/vatdec