OTON GLASS: turning text to speech

With OTON GLASS, users are able to capture text with a blink and have it read back to them in their chosen language. It’s wonderful tool for people with dyslexia or poor vision, or for travellers abroad.



Inspired by his father’s dyslexia, Keisuke Shimakage of the Media Creation Research Department at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences, Japan, began to develop OTON GLASS:

I was determined to develop OTON GLASS because of my father’s dyslexia experience. In 2012, my father had a brain tumor, and developed dyslexia after his operation — the catalyst for OTON GLASS. Fortunately, he recovered fully after rehabilitation. However, many people have congenital dyslexia regardless of their health.

Assembling a team of engineers and designers, Keisuke got to work.

A collage images illustrating the history of developing OTON GLASS — OTON GLASS RASPBERRY PI GLASSES FOR DYSLEXIC USERS

The OTON GLASS device includes a Raspberry Pi 3, two cameras, and an earphone. One camera on the inside of the frame tracks the user’s eyes, and when it detects the blinked trigger, the outward-facing camera captures an image of what the user is looking at. This image is then processed by the Raspberry Pi via a program that performs optical character recognition. If the Pi detects written words, it converts them to speech, which the earphone plays back for the user.

A collage of images and text explaining how OTON GLASS works — OTON GLASS RASPBERRY PI GLASSES FOR DYSLEXIC USERS

The initial prototype of OTON GLASS had a 15-second delay between capturing text and replaying audio. This was cut down to three seconds in the team’s second prototype, designed in CAD software and housed within a 3D-printed case. The makers were then able to do real-world testing of the prototype to collect feedback from dyslexic users, and continued to upgrade the device based on user opinions.

Awards buzz

OTON GLASS is on its way to public distribution this year, and is currently doing the rounds at various trade and tech shows throughout Japan. Models are also available for trial at the Japan Blind Party Association, Kobe Eye Centre, and Nippon Keihan Library. In 2016, the device was runner-up for the James Dyson Award, and it has also garnered attention at various other awards shows and in the media. We’re looking forward to getting out hands on OTON GLASS, and we can’t wait to find out where team will take this device in the future.


Jeffrey Findley avatar

That’s absolutely amazing.

Alex Bate avatar

? Such a lovely idea and an aesthetically pleasing build.

James Carroll avatar

Optical character recognition is a big challenge anyway. To do it on the fly like this is on the verge of miraculous.

Dexter N Muir avatar

Factor in the Japanese script – ideograms – too! Chinese with its thousands would be a further challenge, but given the current state of advancement that won’t be far away. Bravissimo!

Pablo Rogina avatar

Bravissimo! I wish you great success in this undertaking!

John L Miller avatar

My father, age 87 with macular degeneration, would benefit from these glasses!

Jeffrey L. Greer avatar

Very nice indeed. I have very low vision. I am going to see if I can obtain a pair.

Thank you, Jeff

Masafumi Ohta avatar

Thanks picking up Alex! I met Shimakage-san at KickStarter event in Japan. I was amazing Raspberry Pi 3 was included. and introduce Paul and Niko of Pimoroni at our Tokyo Jam event last summer and talked about that to Eben.they are very interested in his works.
And we will have a Jam next weekend we will grab Asano-san of OTON GLASS to ask presenting a speech at our event!

Alex Bate avatar

I hope you get them to come to your Jam. That would be wonderful.

Diana avatar

Absolutely outstanding! An inspiring post!

Hans Lepoeter avatar

excellent project

kventin avatar

nice idea, beautifully executed.

however: why not use compute module? is it just a prototype or are there some technical reasons?

AndrewS avatar

In the ticket-machine example in the demo, how do the glasses know which of the (many) buttons the user is looking at?

Slightly ironic that there’s a “getting out hands on” typo in an article about text to speech ;-)

Danny C. avatar

This literally brought tears to my eyes! I was an avid book reader who lost the majority of my vision ten years ago. The thought that someday soon I might be able to wear a pair of Oton glasses, sit down and get back to reading, or the idea of being able to go out into the world and read a menu. It just lifts my heart. Thank you to everyone who takes part in this project.

Andy Scott avatar

Our daughter has severe dyslexia and going through the school system is a major struggle for her. She requires support from Teaching Assistants in most lessons, these glasses would give her independence and a massive confidence boost.
I feel they are nothing short of miraculous and would be life changing.
I wish you all the luck in the world and hope they will be available in the U.K.

Bhavin Pandya avatar

It’s mindblowing invention, but can we have the whole process trace, or procedure to develop this.

Ted Snyder avatar

Hello, this sounds wonderful! My son is severely dyslexic and can barely read at all, how when and where can I purchase these? My son’s 20th birthday is next week. Is it possible to get these?

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