Lyriq Assistive Reader: Revolutionizing Reading for Blind People
By Kennedy Zimnik
In a world overflowing with technology, few innovations genuinely stand out for their potential to change the way blind and low-vision users live independently. The Lyriq Assistive Reader is one such device, which will transform the way individuals with visual impairments access and enjoy physical text. Let's cover the features of the Lyriq device and discover how it seamlessly provides audio from physical text.
Describing the Device
The Lyriq is about one foot by one foot when folded, and is meant to be placed on a table or counter-top. When unfolded, there is an arm with a camera that is about a foot above the bottom platform. The front of the base platform has a volume slider, with a play button to its left, and a pause button to its right. On the left side of the base is the power button along with an AC power hook-up. The right side of the base has two arrow buttons that increase and decrease speech rate, as well as a USB slot (for transferring scanned text into a file) and an HDMI slot (that doesn’t yet do anything). If you purchase the remote, you can attach it to the folding arm via magnets. the remote has buttons that perform all the functions of the Lyriq.
Enchanting with Text-to-Speech Technology: A Voice to Physical Text
The Lyriq Assistive Reader Device uses incredibly fast text-to-speech technology. It converts printed text into speech, effectively breaking down barriers for those with visual impairments or reading difficulties. From beloved novels to essential educational materials, the Lyriq device brings words to life, turning printed text into accessible audio.
Operating the Device
The Lyriq is as easy to use as it is powerful with multiple ways of using its functions. The device is compact and can fold up when not in use. It is three pounds, and is easy to slip into a backpack or laptop bag. It comes with a case and power supply/charger. You can purchase a keypad that allows you to control the device remotely, which has the same controls that are on the device itself. Once you connect the power supply and unfold the camera, you are ready to start reading.
The Lyriq asks you to place your text on the base. Just seconds later, the device automatically begins reading. The pause and play buttons on the front stop and start the reading. There are also a volume control slider and reading speed controls.
One very cool feature is the hand gesture control. The user can pause and resume reading by waving their hand over the text from left to right. Swiping right to left lets users find previous sentences. The Lyriq is very responsive to these controls, and I found myself using these hand gestures often in my testing with little error.
While the remote is optional and offers only the functions available through the buttons on the base of the device, I would still recommend purchasing it. It makes operating and navigating menu items much easier. For example, some commands require you to press two buttons on the base at the same time, where the remote allows the user to press just one button for the same functions. The remote also allows the user to not constantly sit directly in front of the device.
The Reading Experience
The Lyriq Assistive Reader Device is highly customizable. Readers can make the experience their own by adjusting reading speed to match preferred pace, choosing from a variety of voices, and controlling the reading at one’s own pace. The remote allows the user to navigate by words, sentences, and paragraphs. This level of customization ensures that the Lyriq device adapts to individual preferences, creating a comfortable and engaging reading experience for everyone. You can also connect a Bluetooth speaker or headphones if the built-in speaker isn’t enough, and there is also a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Saving Your Spot
Another cool Lyriq feature is that the user can save up to four pages without the use of a USB stick. Usually, the text must stay on the base, but by saving a page using the “Save” key and one of the four directional keys, you can read through saved pages without them being on the base. If you would like to save more than four pages, connect a USB stick to the side and wait for an announcement. You can then save as many pages as you want and reopen them on your computer. The Lyriq will save the scanned pages into text (.txt) and MP3 files.
The Lyriq can read twenty different languages. With its multilingual support, Lyriq caters to a global audience, allowing users to explore literature and information in a multitude of languages. It does not offer translation features. If the Spanish voice is equipped with an English text, it will read English with a Spanish accent, and vice versa. You can contact the vendor to upload other language options.
Stress-testing the Lyriq
I tested the Lyriq on curved texts (bottles, cans) as well as in low-light conditions. The Lyriq performed fairly well on curved texts, although keeping curved objects still while they are on their sides can be tough. Most of the time, the Lyriq scans and reads the letters that are visible to the camera—the letters facing up. In low-light, because there is a light attached to the camera, it also did fairly well. The device started having issues when it started reading not well-lighted text on the edges of the page. Overall, the Lyriq performed well in stress-tests by reading curved text and text in low-light conditions (when the text was visible).
Concluding Thoughts and Pricing
The Lyriq costs 1,960 dollars without the keypad, and 2,195 dollars with the keypad. These prices are very competitive to other Optical Character Recognition (OCR) devices, and frankly, it is one of the fastest OCR devices on the market. While it is expensive, you do get speed unmatched to most similar technology. If you are blind or low-vision, and an avid reader of physical text, I recommend purchasing the Lyriq. It represents a leap forward in making the world of literature, information, and education accessible to everyone. Its features, ranging from quick text-to-speech technology and multilingual support to the ability to export files revolutionize OCR technology. With Lyriq as your guide, the pages of countless books, articles, and documents are no longer out of reach for blind or low vision users. So, whether you're an avid sci-fi reader, or studying for your next exam, the Lyriq Assistive Reader Device can help. Happy reading!