In November 2009, Intel unveiled the Intel Reader, a compact device using a smart 5-megapel digital camera running Linux Moblin, which snaps photos of pages and renders them as speech. The price is $1500. One can also buy a handsome compactable copystand to hold the camera for $400 more. The product was conceived by Intel's Ben Foss, who can use the product to process a 250-page book in 90 minutes, taking 30 minutes for photography and 60 minutes for text recognition. The device is demonstrated in the two videos below. (Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal critically reviews the machine here.)
The previous year, the Kurzweil KNFB Mobile Reader became available, consisting of proprietary software running on a conventional smart cellphone, currently, either the Nokia N82 or N86. If one already owns a suitable cellphone, it is possible to buy the software alone for $1000. This product is more flexible than the one above, as it is also supposed to support reading things like street signs, rather than just books and similar documents.
Introduction of the competitive Intel unit above probably accounts for the substantial price decrease - when introduced, the Kurzweil KNFB Mobile Reader software cost something like $1700. Learn more about this machine in the lengthy video below.