Israel’s Wizcomtech designs pen to make reading easier for kids with dyslexia

Israel’s Wizcomtech designs pen to make reading easier for kids with dyslexia

New device aims to help the 14% of school-age children who have trouble reading, writing and understanding the meaning of words

Wizcom's electronic pen aims to help children with dyslexia and reading disorders (Courtesy)
Wizcom's electronic pen aims to help children with dyslexia and reading disorders (Courtesy)

Modiin-based Wizcomtech one of the largest producers of pen-shaped handheld scanning translators, said it has clinched a $5 million deal with a US distributor to sell a new pen that helps children with dyslexia.

The company’s Quicktionary translation pens, available in more than 24 languages, are already being used by students in English classes and matriculation exams in junior high and high schools in Israel, as well as by students in the UK for their foreign language studies. The electronic pen-shaped scanners immediately translate text, from and to a variety of languages, onto an LCD screen set within the pen.

Now, the company is turning its sights to the dyslexia market.

“We saw a demand in the market for a slightly different product than our existing translation pens and developed a pen which offered a solution for children with dyslexia,” said Dror Drukman, CEO of Wizcomtech.

The reading pen scans text and breaks words down into syllables using a digital voice, and gives students synonyms for the words they are reading so that they can better understand and remember them in the future.

Dyslexia, a disorder which affects nearly 14 percent of school-aged children and young adults in the US, according to data from the International Dyslexia Association, causes children and adults to have trouble reading, spelling, writing and understanding the meaning of words, despite possessing high levels of intelligence.

Some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs including Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Charles Schwab, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson have been diagnosed with dyslexia.

The pen, offered in English and Swedish, was created by working closely with education professionals and making use of case studies, the company said.

Similar products on the market for people with dyslexia offer fewer languages and features, the company said. C-Pen Reader, for example, is a pocket-sized device that reads text aloud using a digital voice.

“Competing products are based only on reading, not other functions such as syllable division which are relevant to children with reading disabilities.  Our pen is developed using special dictionaries and algorithms that divide words into syllables making it easier for children to recognize words,” Drukman said.

Wizcomtech says it expects to complete a Chinese-language version of its pen in the next few months and enter the Chinese market with a conservative estimate of 250,000 units in the coming years; the monetary value of which is tens of millions of dollars, said Drukman.

“China is a huge market for us. We are currently in dealings with a leading Chinese organization on dyslexia and distributors regarding the implementation of our pen and look forward to building partnerships with them in the near future,” said Drukman.

The company’s existing translation product, Quicktionary, is already being distributed in China, the company said.

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