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#TechThursdays - TouchVision SmartStand promises to be a game changer for visually impaired people

In our weekly feature #TechThursdays, we look at the latest offering by young entrepreneur Ankita Gulati who has developed a device that enables blind and low vision people to access any printed text.

Not every document is reproduced in Braille, making printed text inaccessible to visually impaired people. TouchVision SmartStand aims to change that.

Anaavaran Technologies Private Limited, a social enterprise incubated by the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-D) has launched a device that enables visually impaired people to independently access any form of printed text.

TouchVision SmartStand is a stand that is foldable and portable. It holds the smartphone in a position that facilitates fast, precisely aligned scans of any printed text, ranging from documents, books, cheques, newspapers, greeting cards and business cards.

It is portable, lightweight and user-friendly, folds down flat and fits in a backpack or laptop sleeve. It's easy and intuitive mechanism enables visually impaired users to use any smartphone application to scan their documents in real time and listen to the scanned text in their preferred language. - Ankita Gulati, Founder- CEO, Anaavaran Technologies Private Ltd.

With the device, users can scan any long document within minutes with the help of the stand. They can also share the scanned file in different formats including EPUB, PDF and text.

"With this, users can scan even a 100-page document in three minutes", adds Ankita, who has been won a national award for developing affordable assistive technologies. Her start-up has received grants from the Ministry of Human Resource and Development and the Department of Science and Technology for the development and dissemination of inclusive products.

Lighter, cheaper

What makes her latest innovation unique is that it is cheaper and lighter than available products. "The scanners in the market are imported and bulky", points out Ankita. The other problem is that they are available in English language only, making them inaccessible to users in other languages.

The SmartStand is available in two versions, one priced at ₹1,840 and the other at ₹1,250. The team has been working on the design for over three years and plans to officially release it in a few weeks' time. It is being used in various state government offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Rajasthan as well as in colleges, banks and government organisations. Around 1,000 books have been converted since February 2019.

Akashdeep Arora, an IAS officer in Jaipur started using the SmartStand five months ago. "This is a great breakthrough in my life in areas of accessibility. I can take the images of written documents myself without anybody's assistance and convert it into text with the help of Optical Character Recognition software and read it and access in on my laptop as well."

Another visually impaired bank employee in Rajasthan used it to translate the books he needed for his exams. "He could convert 60 books in a week for him and his classmates", adds Ankita.

The launch and adoption of SmartStand, hopes Ankita, will serve as a milestone in enabling India to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and contribute to the Development with All, For All agenda for inclusive development.

ALSO READ:#TechThursdays: TouchVision brings pictures alive for people with visual disabilities

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