Back at build 2020, which was all-virtual, Microsoft brought some important updates to Azure Cognitive Services. Perhaps the standout among those tools was Immersive Reader, which has been in preview since that May announcement.
Well, today, Microsoft says Immersive Reader is now generally available for all Azure Cognitive Services customers. It is worth noting Microsoft originally sent out the first preview of the tool last year. At Build, the company discussed how it functions within Cognitive Services.
If you're unfamiliar with Immersive Reader, it is a tool available across several Microsoft services, including the old Edge, OneNote, and even Minecraft. It is a tool that helps users with dyslexia and other reading challenges.
For users of Cognitive Services, the feature allows them to embed comprehension and text reading tools into their applications.
Microsoft points out Immersive Reader provides a boost in the current remote learning climate. Indeed, the company says it has seen a 560% boost in usage for the tool between February and May. Of course, this reflect the work-at-home and learn-at-home situation most are in because of COVID-19.
“Immersive Reader has become a critical resource for distance learning, with more than 23 million people every month using the tool to improve their reading and writing comprehension.”
Immersive Reader is reaching public release with some extra features now part of the service:
- “New partnerships with Code.org and SAFARI Montage: Code.org and SAFARI Montage added Immersive Reader to their solutions to make content more accessible.
- 15 new Neural Text-to-Speech (TTS) languages: Immersive Reader is adding 15 new Neural TTS voices, enabling students to have content read aloud in even more languages.
- Five new Translator languages: Translator is adding five new languages that will also be available in Immersive Reader – Odia, Kurdish (Northern), Kurdish (Central), Pashto and Dari.
- Immersive Reader SDK 1.1: Updates include support to have a page read aloud automatically, pre-translating content and more.”