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Plustek Technology Inc. has announced the availability of the BookReader… a gadget that transforms printed words into audio output, which can be saved in MP3 format for future access.

From the Plustek press release:

With the press of one button, the BookReader will convert printed text into high quality speech with a lifelike voice. The BookReader comes with Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and Text to Speech (TTS) software, to copy and “read” the documents scanned into the BookReader. The user simply places a book or document on the screen and at the press of a button, the book is scanned for reading pleasure. One more touch of a button and the BookReader transforms printed words into audio output, which can be saved in MP3 format for future access.

The MSRP is $699 and available from multiple retailers, at lower prices. I could see this appealing to the blind and low-vision market primarily, but the literature trumpets this as a way to get your kids to enjoy books more, through the power of that whiz-bang device, the MP3 player. I mean, look at this bit of marketing wizardry that is used on the Plustek web site to hammer the point home:

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To me this seems really intriguing, especially if you wanted to fake an interview with someone; have them read the answers to my question and re-edit everything so it sounds live; tweak the voice settings; or even recreate a famous sounding voice. I may need to request one of these for a review. Ethics be damned!

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