DAISY Consortium's News Brief - # 2013-06a
Enjoy a concise selection of digital publishing news. Our main goal is to inform DAISY Members and Supporters about new e-reading technologies and related developments.

Upcoming Events: Future Publishing and Accessibility Conference, NFB Convention

Nota (Danish National Library for Persons with Print Disabilities) is hosting the Future Publishing and Accessibility Conference in Copenhagen June 13-14, 2013.

National Federation of the Blind 2013 National Convention will take place July 1st - July 6th, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. Make your room reservation as soon as possible with the Rosen Centre staff only. Call (800) 204-7234.

What's New?: e-Book Market in Central and Eastern Europe, MathType with Google Forms and More

Kolibre: Individuals with print disabilities benefit from open source software

Kolibre logo imageCreating rewarding reading experiences for individuals with print disabilities is challenging. Yet this is a question of social equality. Using various methods, a printed or digital publication can be converted into a talking publication. The publication, such as for example a daily newspaper, should be easily accessible and easy to handle. Thus many organizations and libraries for the visually impaired use DAISY, the international standard for talking publications.

Kolibre has recently published software building blocks necessary for creating a talking publication player that supports the DAISY standard. The programs also support DAISY Online, the international standard for the transmission of talking publications using the Internet. These programs have been developed with the financial support of Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY) and are available at github.com/kolibre.

The software is licensed as open source software, which means that anyone can copy, improve or use the source code for various needs. Documentation has also been made available along with the source code so that individuals, organizations and companies can easily construct their own player for playback of DAISY talking publications.

In order to demonstrate the possibilities of open source software, in the end of 2013 Kolibre will publish instructions and source code for a player designed for use with Raspberry Pi hardware, which anyone will be able to recreate at a cost of less than 100 Euros. This is possible thanks to the open source software and this also makes it possible to build new players at significantly lower cost than previously.

For more information please contact: Martin von Willebrand, Kolibre Chairman, tel. +358 40 770 1818 Daniel Ainasoja, CEO, tel. +358 50 527 4174

Featured Keynote Speaker: Ray Kurzweil

“My field and my passion is pattern recognition, teaching computers to recognize patterns. So, I had a technique that could recognize printed letters in any type style. And it seemed like kind of a solution in search of a problem. I wondered what is this good for?” - Ray Kurzweil, Inventor, Futurist, Author.

He will join the conversation surrounding the future of publishing and accessibility at Future Publishing and Accessibility Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark (June 13-14, 2013).

In 1974, Kurzweil found the answer to his question when he happened to sit next to a blind gentleman on an airplane. Kurzweil's seat mate explained that they only real handicap he experienced was his inability to read ordinary printed material. By applying his OCR technology – and creating scanners and text-to-speech synthesizers to support it – Kurzweil was able to create the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the Kurzweil Reading Machine.

Born in Brooklyn in 1948 to a musician father and visual artist mother, Kurzweil was introduced to computers by an uncle who worked at Bell Labs. He combined the influences of these adults during his high school years when he created a pattern-recognition software program that analyzed the works of classical composers, and then synthesized its own songs in similar styles. He was invited to “perform” with his software on national television and eventually won first prize in the International Science Fair and recognition from the Westinghouse Talent Search for the invention.

Kurzweil's early success was followed by a string of projects in which he was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.

Kurzweil is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world’s largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.

Kurzweil has authored seven books, five of which have been national bestsellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages. Ray’s book, The Singularity Is Near, was a New York Times bestseller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy. His latest NYT bestseller is How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. KurzweilAI.net has over two million readers annually.

Kurzweil was recently appointed Director of Engineering at Google.