A New eReader Reads to You

Amazon’s Kindle might save your eyes from glare, but some say it’s not that pretty to look at. This issue becomes more apparent when you’re reading a book or magazine rich with images. Blio, an eReader that launches next month from the reading technology company, K-NFB, hopes to fill this gap; it’s eReader preserves layouts, images, and color while also allowing a user to interact using multiple modalities—such as Web links or videos. Nuance will also provide a text-to-speech (TTS) feature as a download on the Blio ereader Web site so users can also have text read to them using Nuance’s voice personalities “Samantha” or “Tom.”

“We designed Blio to offer the eBook market a device that fully maintains the integrity of printed media by offering a rich and visually-compelling experience to consumers. However, we wanted to ensure that these visual elements could be enhanced through the power of today’s sophisticated speech technology,” said Ray Kurzweil, voice-recognition inventor and founder of K-NFB, in a statement. “With Nuance’s speech technology, Blio can now bring words and characters to life in a way that makes the eReader experience even more enjoyable and accessible for book and magazine aficionados everywhere.”

Nuance’s speech-enabled accessory for Blio will also be available for manufacturers developing eReaders or integrating eReader’s functions on mobile devices, such as tablets, with Blio software.

“Blio truly demonstrates how advances in both eReader and speech technology are coming together to change the way people interact with media,” said Michael Thompson, senior vice president and general manager at Nuance Mobile, in a statement.  “The combination of Blio’s amazing color-filled, 3D eBooks with our lifelike speech technology offers the market a compelling eReader experience at a time where differentiation and customization are critical.”

Blio will be available for a free download, and the company will provide a library of free books; other books can be purchased and stored in a personal library that interfaces seamlessly with other devices. It will be available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile and will also be released on the iPhone/iPad operating systems soon after the launch date, according to Todd Graff at Blio.

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