Reading printed text in real time: Lily Williams reviews the C Pen Reader

Lilly using C Pen

Our assistive Tech Officer Lily Williams, recently attended the Bett Show; an event that showcases the latest technology for education.

She came across a device called a C-Pen Reader. A handheld scanning pen primarily targeted towards dyslexic users that can also be used by anyone who finds printed text difficult to access.

Lily reviews the C Pen’s potential to assist blind and partially sighted readers.

“The C-Pen Reader is developed by a company called Scanning Pens LTD. It allows the user to scan printed text and hear it spoken back instantly. Scans can be transferred to a PC, the device comes with an in-built Collins English Dictionary and the pen has an in-built voice memos function.”

Scanning text

“A user is able to scan across printed text using accurate optical character recognition (OCR). I was impressed at how accurate the optical character recognition is regardless of font / paper colour. I have noticed that this is often an issue with other text to speech readers. Independently accessing printed text on colourful leaflets or food packaging for low-vision users can now be possible. There is also no limit to the amount of words you scan; you can scan anything from one word to a full paragraph and immediately hear this spoken back to you. The audio output can either be heard via built-in speakers or a 3.5mm earphone jack.”

Computer file transfer

“You can transfer and save / edit text onto your computer (Windows, Mac or Linux), impressively, there is no need to install any extra software – you simply plug it in to your computer with a USB cable and it appears as an external hard drive. Any voice memos you record can also be saved and transferred onto your computer.”

Final thoughts

“Coming in at £200, the C Pen Reader is an affordable device with a lot of potential to increase independence of low vision users. I loved the fact it’s so portable and lightweight; it’s smaller than a smartphone!
I really like how this device gives the user independence and ownership over what they can access; no longer will you need to ask someone else to read something to you. In a working environment, you could access printed documents in meetings independently without the need to change font size.

As a bonus the staff from C-Pen informed me that they are working on integrating an audio menu which would make this product even more accessible.”

Want to read more reviews like this? Check out Lily’s last review of Orcam, a wearable device that recognises objects and faces.

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