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This page was last updated on: 23 October, 2012
Technology Watch - September 2001
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Technology Watch for December 2001

Free Educational Reading Software 27 September 2001

Premier Programming Solutions (PPS), a DeWitt, MI-based software development company, is making Scan and Read a unique software package that instantly translates written text into spoken language available for free to schools, libraries, literacy groups and non-profit training organizations around the world.

"With Scan and Read, reading has never been easier or more affordable," said Steve Timmer, PPS chief executive officer and founder. In addition to distributing free copies, PPS is making the software available to the public for $89.95 a fraction of the price of similar programs.

Go to for more information.


Image: Steven Leeb with modified light

Fluorescent Light Transmitter - 12 September 2001

MIT professor and founder of Talking Lights Steven Leeb has developed a network that transmits data using the fluctuations of fluorescent lights to transmit data. A standard fluorescent light uses a magnetic ballast to regulate the flow of electricity to the light at 60 Hz, causing the lamp to dim 120 times per second. Newer electronic ballast increase the rate into the millisecond range. Leeb realized that the flicker rate no longer depended on the oscillation of electric current, he could control the flicker rate and transmit data both digitally by changing the flicker rate, and analog by adjusting the brightness of the light. A specialized receiver picks up the data signal and turns it into information. The demo system has a small black box receiver hooked up to two speakers. Leeb set up one of his specialized lights to transmit Handles Messiah to the receiver.

Leeb says the system can be used to direct the blind though a complex environment, such as an airport, or to transmit enhanced audio signals (for the hearing impaired) or captioning(for the Deaf) in an auditorium.

See for more details.