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Texas Instruments to Receive 2007 Vision Award for Technology Advancements that Help the Blind


History of Contributions Recognized

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.– RP International (RPI), the nation’s leading non-profit fighting Retinitis Pigmentosa and other blinding degenerative eye diseases, announced it will honor Texas Instruments for its many contributions to the organization and technology developments that assist the blind. Beginning with a speech recognition computer donated to the organization years ago, TI has since supported RPI and its cause through technology development and research. The award will be presented to Gene Frantz, TI’s principal fellow and digital signal processing (DSP) visionary, during its annual fundraising event tomorrow night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Frantz helped revolutionize speech synthesis technology using DSP while leading the design team for the Speak ‘n Spell in the 1970s. DSP technology is now found in many medical applications, including devices that assist the blind.

“Technology makes a difference everyday in how the blind interact with the world and TI has consistently been there offering its support,” said Helen Harris, founder and inspiration behind RPI. “For taking the initiative to help RPI from our earliest days and consistently pushing the envelope on how to apply technology to reduce the impact of blindness, I proudly recognize Texas Instruments with this 2007 Vision Award.”

On behalf of Texas Instruments, Frantz said, “Many of the technology pieces required to restore a level of vision are well understood and being tested today. I praise Helen for her tireless efforts in pushing TI and all technologists to develop increasingly innovative solutions that can change people’s lives.”

Signal processing in real-time is critical to applications involving sight and sound because of the speed at which the body can process and respond to information. TI analog and digital components provide that “real-time” connection to the external world. These chips have been included in a number of devices designed to assist the visually impaired, including a speech recognition computer that reads back text and converts speech to text; a TheatreVision set-top box that adds audio commentary and scene descriptions to movies and TV, enriching the entertainment experience for the blind community; and a processor that translates incoming information from retinal implants to deliver sight to the blind. Led by a team at the University of Southern California, a limited number of patients have received early versions of these implants and, today, are helping researchers test and improve this technology.


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