The KNFB Reader App released for iPhones

With apologies, we get just as frustrated writing about “one day real soon now” prototypes as you do reading about them, so we’re delighted to announce that the long-awaited KNFB Reader app for the iPhone has just been released.

KNFB, developed in a partnership between Ray Kurzweil and the National Federation of the Blind, is an uncannily accurate text-to-speech translator, which uses a cell phone’s built-in camera to perform optical character recognition. For examples, see this side-by-side comparison of an earlier version of KNFB, not yet available for iPhones, to the iPhone friendly Pizmo reader. The KNFB readings are virtually error free, while the competing responses are often sadly gibberish.

Equipped with the KNFB app, an iPhone can be aimed at anything from a menu to a street sign and give an accurate reading. It even lets users know that it’s incorrectly positioned over a piece of text or that an “unidentified printed object” that came in the mail has no text on the side the phone’s being held over.Continue Reading

A quick PS on the Apple Watch

Along with the new iPhones, Apple also announced the “Apple Watch,” disappointing those who were hoping it would be called the “iWatch.” According to Senior Housing News, it has some features of potential interest to seniors. We say “potential” because it doesn’t yet, ah, exist.

You are getting will give Apple all your money...

You are getting sleepy…you will give Apple all your money…

As our colleague at Health Tech Insider, Alfred Poor warns, “The demonstration units shown to the press were not fully functional, and shipments won’t start until sometime in 2015. And until you can put cash on the counter and get one of these gizmos in return, it’s not a real product because we don’t know yet what the final product will — and won’t — do.”

For now, all you need to know is:

It’s not yet available.

The announced base price is $350. And you’ll need an iPhone for it to work properly.

If you don’t already own a compatible iPhone, at least you’ve got a year to start saving!



Disposing–and possibly profiting from–Old Technology

While new technology can make the lives of seniors easier, old technology is just another piece of clutter. Unless it’s an Apple I, even the early birds at the garage sale won’t want it.

What can you do with it? has a smart article with some useful ideas for handling the problem, from re-selling to recycling. They also have some important cautions:

  • Like disposing old motor oil, be aware of local environmental laws regulating what must be done with old electronics.
  • Like destroying old credit cards, be certain no one can reconstruct what was on your device. You may need to hire a professional to help you with this.
Ya never know...

Ya never know…

One caution we’d like to add to their list, after the traumatic experiences of friends who lost their comic book collections to overly zealous parental purging. Sure, there’s always going to be somebody who’ll offer ten bucks to take that old junk off your hands, but never toss anything without first checking its value as a collectible. That Apple I we mentioned? It sold at auction for $671,000.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a story today about re-selling iPhones. If the original price of your phone was discounted due to a two-year contract, it may actually be possible to realize a profit over what you paid. If you buy a phone knowing that you’re eventually going to re-sell it, make sure you keep everything that came with the original packaging and don’t get the phone engraved.

Several commentators on the Times story suggested that a good cost-saving strategy is to buy  your phone at a discount on a two-year contract, then keep the phone when the contract is up and switch to a lower cost or pay-as-you-go carrier.

Important note: If you plan to sell or trade-in your phone, check current reviews of whatever sites you’re seriously considering. The Times list cashforiphones among its suggestions, but CNet has a lengthy article warning against them, with excellent advice on what questions to ask about trade-ins. Consumer Reports has a list of trust-worthy stores and sites. In addition, you might want to consider eBay and Apple itself, which will send you a gift card.