"Genie"- electronic servant to people with visual impairment

04-01-2005

"Gin", meaning "Genie" in Czech, is the name of a Czech-made multipurpose pocket-size electronic organiser specially designed to serve people with visual impairment. Its memory is large enough to contain a whole bookcase, it knows when to wake its master up and remind him of important things on his schedule.

The visually-impaired former musician turned software writer Jiri Mojzisek knows best what people with visual impairment require from such an electronic device. He's been continuously developing his initial idea since the 1980s. Since the mid-1990s he's been cooperating with the Czech Academy of Sciences' Institute of Information Theory which has developed "Genie's" hardware. Now an updated version of "Genie" with an enlarged memory has been launched.

"Before last December only one average book would fit in Genie's one-megabyte memory. Now it is 500 times larger so you can carry around a good-sized home library. Apart from that 'Genie' serves as a phone book, diary, alarm clock, schedule organiser and so on."

Besides using it to save documents, people can use "Genie" to write texts. It has a seven-key Braille keyboard and can be connected to a computer with a printer.

"Students can write notes during lectures on 'Genie'. Then at home they can feed the notes into a computer and print them out or save them in a document folder. Or they can scan a printed book at home, feed it into Genie and then listen to say a detective story on the bus on their way to school through earphones."

Jiri Mojzisek says he's never short of ideas on how to further improve his "Genie" as he uses it himself every day and also gets suggestions from his friends. He says that compared to similar devices produced abroad "Genie" has a number of advantages: it is three times cheaper and because "Genie" does not work like a PC it takes no time before it starts working after you switch it on. And most importantly, it speaks Czech.

04-01-2005