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Humanitarians

35 Innovators Under 35

Humanitarians

Using technology to tackle problems caused by poverty, war, or disability.

Yevgen Borodin, 34

A software tool conceived for blind people could offer an intuitive way for anyone to listen to online material.

  • by David Talbot
  • Yevgen Borodin, an assistant professor at Stony Brook University and CEO of Charmtech Labs, is making it easier for people who are blind—and everyone else, too—to listen to content published only as text online.

    Borodin’s software, Capti Narrator, serves as a hub for spoken material drawn from many written sources: Dropbox, Google Drive, Web pages, e-book repositories such as Bookshare and Gutenberg, and more. To create the software, Borodin and his team at Charmtech devised ways of extracting content from documents and websites and running it through text-to-speech engines. The software also lets users start listening on one device and continue on another, picking up where they left off.

    “Blind people easily [take] far longer to do simple computer tasks than others do, and I decided that I had to do something about it,” says Borodin, who grew up in Ukraine and came to the United States for college. His ultimate goal is for his invention to follow the path of assistive technologies such as optical character recognition and speech-to-text, which started out as niche tools for people with disabilities but became mainstream. Capti Narrator was unveiled at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times worldwide.

    David Talbot

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