AppleVis Extra #23: KNFBReader Mobile

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In this twenty-third episode of the AppleVis Extra, Michael Hansen, AnonyMouse, and Monique Ramirez talk with James Gashel—Vice President for Business Development at K-NFB Reading Technology and Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind’s Board of Directors—about the upcoming KNFBReader Mobile iPhone app. James discusses some of the challenges associated with development of KNFBReader Mobile for iPhone; tells the listener what sets KNFBReader apart from other OCR apps; and also answers many questions from the interview panel, ranging from an explanation of the app’s $99 price tag to whether the app can run on older devices—and everything in-between.

Some of the features of the upcoming KNFBReader iPhone app will include:

  • Recognition of PowerPoint slides, from up to 25 feet away.
  • Scanning and OCR for PDF documents.
  • A "Field of View" report for documents.
  • A book scanning mode for quickly scanning many pages.
  • The ability to navigate text by word, sentence, etc.
  • The ability to save in a variety of file formats, including PDF.
  • The ability to scan business cards and save to contacts
  • Recognition and translation between different languages.

K-NFB Reading Technology has made a recording of the official unveiling and demonstration of the KNFBReader app available at The National Federation of the Blind has also published audio of James Gashel's KNFBReader presentation at the federation's 74th annual national convention on July 6, 2014.

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Very useful and informative

This was a very good podcast. I think the folks at KNFB seem to have thought this through with regards to app pricing. It's nice to see a company put it's cards on the table like that and actually admit the costs of R and D. I'm buying it for sure as I still have one of the older PDA readers that is still working.

I am finding this podcast and

I am finding this podcast and the nfb convention audio very interesting.
I wasn't two impressed with the official unvailing audio mostly because I felt some of the text being read was quite short.
But I am finding the convention audio much more impressive. I did just have an interesting thought, given that the reader can read power point presentations from a screen, I wonder if it could read startup errors from a computer screen.
I have tweeted knfb to ask them.

Just had a discussion

We just had a discussion about this for a training in our office. The assertion is that this would be a more viable solution for vocational rehabilitation clients than a higher priced scanner. I would agree, except this seems to only work on iPhones, meaning the consumer would need to be able to obtain and maintain an iphone. In any case, I'm seriously considering buying this for myself at some point.

Just to respond to the last

Just to respond to the last comment, offering this to rehabilitation clients also assumes that they will be able to grasp a touch screen easily, and also have all the needs for an iPhones functions.
I know someone who is in her late 60s, she went blind 14 years ago or so, she can't get on with touch screens very well, she has to use guide on her computer which is really designed for those not very confident with a computer or who are unable to use something like jaws.
Anyway she would not be able to master something like this app and doesn't even need all the features an Iphone has to offer, but she is able to use a traditional hardware based scanner with her computer, with no problems because it has proper buttons which she can use fine.

Great to have choices

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Have to agree that the KNFBReader is just one option of many that one can evaluate. It will vary of your need and what you can do. There is no doubt there is a healthy cost that goes in to owning a device like the iPhone. That could be said for the Nokia that was also mention in the podcast. As you and many are aware that most mobile devices out there are now smart devices. So if one can use the technology of a button free device. This will certainly be a viable alternative to check out. I can only hope that the iPod Touch will continue to come out with improved camera. My thought is that if that if that is possible. Owning an iPod Touch could be a great and cheaper way to get many of the useful apps out there now wrapped in one device.

As for those that don't own a mobile device. There are definitely choices out there that one can purchase that are an additional device one can own without having to put more money in to it. Once purchased it is yours for life. This is great! It can be quite expensive if they have to foot that bill. However, it is certainly something I would also have to agree. They are great in what they do. Many people will find the simplicity and the buttons that can be found on these devices. So they are no way in jeopardy of losing out or will be going away any time soon.

The thought I was trying to present in to the podcast was that many will balk of the high cost of the KNFBReader. As it was clear that the cost behind something like this app was measured in a figure that blew my mind. So to offer something of a quality and the OCR that we would love to have on our device that could measure up the standard of those hardware that are more expensive. Well, this would be fantastic! That is if one is tech savvy enough to use the smart device. It is yet another app we can add to already healthy list of arsenal to help us in our everyday life. All in a single device.

The problems I see a lot with students and the younger generation. Is that taking a laptop to class? Plus the choice of what scanner they want to bring. Most portable scanner are not exactly small enough that can be set up along with the laptop. Plus, all other devices in a single desk. Portability is an issue. Now if one use it at home or at a dorm room. We have the needed space that we need. This would be great to have an option of having something even smaller and this KNFBReader could do a lot more with it since you could save it via drop box. Use other apps like Pages and such wit a flick of a button. No worry to transfer things around. If one doesn't have Wi-Fi and need to send it quickly or edit it on the fly. The iPod Touch or other devices would fit that bill.

So I think the price of the KNFBReader is fair. Especially, knowing how much they have put in to this app. The money, resources and such.

Nothing will ever replace the higher cost hardware that offer more simplicity and buttons for those that need something like that. It is great to see choices.


hello all.
Just listen to The podcast, and it sounds really interesting, not to say exciting.
But I'm not sure I understand KNFB's attitude regarding a trial period for KNFB reader.
I personally think it would be fair, as anyone who is interested in an OCR app, already has Prismo and
text grabber installed on his iPhone, and the first thing they will want to do is A B KNFB reader with these to see if it's worth it.
What is KNFB afraid of. If it's that better, they will buy it won't they ?
Best regards,

iPod Touch

As Someone who is anxiously awaiting to see if a new iPod Touch will drop this fall, I am hoping the hardware will support this app. My 4th generation's camera is so bad that it is like a tease when it comes to bar codes let alone OCR. I can get Digit Eyes to work, and the recognition apps do okay, but neither is ideal. OCR is out of the question. If a new iPod with a good enough camera comes down the line this fall, and, if the KNFB reader is as good as I hope, I'll be cleaning out my piggy bank.

Great interview, thanks.

Having heard the interview, I have to say I am really looking forward to this app. I remember seeing some one use it on a Nokia N82 a few years ago, and being blown away by it. Can't wait for it. To echo what many people have already said, its good to have choices, counting the weeks until it comes to the uk app store.