En-vision's ScripTalk Station® Uses Analog Devices' Blackfin® to Bring Independence to Sight-Impaired Patients

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ScripTalk Station, an automated prescription reader for sight impaired patients, perpetuates En-vision America's two-decade commitment by employing advanced technologies to provide independence for people with visual impairments.

Impairments such as blindness, dyslexia, or illiteracy prevent a significant number of patients from reading prescription-medication label information. Utilizing RFID and text-to-speech (TTS) technologies, ScripTalk Station leverages Analog Devices' Blackfin processor to transform drug-label printing into audible, spoken words. When a sight-impaired patient places a prescription bottle on the ScripTalk unit, a digitally-generated voice "reads" the prescription label out loud to the patient, articulating both the drug name and the recommended dosage. The result is that sight-impaired patients are able to manage their own medical concerns in a safe and private manner, through a technology-enabled product that is specifically designed to be affordable and very easy to use.

Already installed in all of the Veteran Administration outpatient pharmacies, ScripTalk is recognized by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs as an assistive technology that helps independent-living veterans who are unable to read their own prescriptions.

True Technological Independence
A system-level convergence of technical requirements around price, power consumption, processing performance, peripheral interfacing and technology-ecosystem led En-vision's engineers to the Blackfin processor for the lightweight, portable ScripTalk design. The Blackfin device also satisfied En-vision's need for a single processing engine that can simultaneously implement the ScripTalk Station's intuitive user interface, high-quality audio output, and accurate TTS signal processing on a single platform.

High-quality voice processing is fundamental to the effectiveness of ScripTalk Station, and the Blackfin third-party ecosystem was a fundamental driver in achieving clarity and accuracy for sight-impaired patients. Early in the ScripTalk product-development process, En-Vision partnered with Mistral Solutions, an established "concept-to-deployment" design engineering firm. Having designed and developed numerous Blackfin-based consumer electronics devices, including media players, digital audio players, and automotive "hands free" devices, Mistral was already familiar with Blackfin's design, performance and TTS capabilities. Mistral was able to leverage this experience to enhance the ScripTalk Station's marketability by integrating multi-lingual TTS using Nuance RealSpeak® for high-quality speech processing.
As experts in assistive technology, En-Vision delivered a straightforward, 3-button interface for users, taking advantage of Blackfin's RISC type architecture which inherently optimizes peripheral performance.

For all visually impaired individuals, the Scriptalk Station is a vital tool for self-sufficiency, personal safety and privacy, helping patients avoid mistakes with essential disease-maintenance drugs and potentially dangerous substances like narcotics.

The simplicity of the ScripTalk design also extends into the pharmacy where a ScripTalk base unit connects to a computer via USB or serial port to interface with existing Windows-compatible software. Pharmacists upload prescription data from standard pharmacy-management software to the En-Vision device. With a simple button press, a special RFID-tagged label is encoded with all warnings, side effects and patient personal information. At home, the sight impaired patient uses a similar device to hear the label information.

Optimizing Embedded Convergent Processing
In the past, En-Vision used separate devices -- a microcontroller and a TTS chip set -- to integrate all this functionality. But the company sought after a way to reduce costs, development time while still delivering a user friendly, low power solution. With the programmable Blackfin processor, En-Vision found a single device that can simultaneously implement control functions and TTS processing, reducing time-to-market, as well as BOM and development costs. And with Blackfin's on-chip power-management feature, the designers were able to fine-tune the processor's power consumption profile. The resulting reduction in power demands contributed directly to ScripTalk's ability to be a portable, battery-powered device. En-Visions expects to broaden user mobile connectivity in next generations of ScripTalk Station, by incorporating Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other wireless functionality.


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Mary Cadwallader
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