The 40th anniversary presentation of the Vision Awards will take place on September 23, 2010, in Beverly Hills. For the first time, the Vision Awards will present a “Pioneer in Technology” award to Ray Kurzweil (pictured). The announcement was made today by Helen Harris, founder of Retinitis Pigmentosa International, which is the presenting organization behind these awards.
Harris launched both Retinitis Pigmentosa International and the Vision Awards in 1970 to raise awareness of the millions of people who fight against the gradual loss of their vision from both RP and macular degeneration. The Vision Awards also raise funds for medical research.
“We are really thrilled to be honoring this year super genius Ray Kurzweil, one of the most acclaimed inventors of all time,” Harris says. “As the creator of the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, he has helped millions of visually impaired individuals, including myself, enjoy the gift of books. Our first-ever ‘Pioneer in Technology’ Vision Award couldn’t possibly be bestowed upon a more deserving individual.”
Kurzweil was the principal developer of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first Omni-Font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of re-creating the sounds of the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition technology. (Read George Peterson’s write-up honoring the 1983 Kurzweil 250 ROM-based sampling keyboard for the 2008 TECnology Hall of Fame.) Kurzweil’s Website, Kurzweil AI.net, reportedly has more than one million visitors.