Called Speegle, it has the look and feel of a normal search engine, with the added feature of being able to read out the results.

Scottish speech technology firm CEC Systems launched the site in November.

But experts have questioned whether talking search engines are of any real benefit to people with visual impairments.

The Edinburgh-based firm CEC has married speech technology with ever-popular internet search.

The ability to search is becoming increasingly crucial to surfers baffled by the huge amount of information available on the web.

According to search engine Ask Jeeves, around 80% of surfers visit search engines as their first port of call on the net.

People visiting Speegle can select one of three voices to read the results of a query or summarise news stories from sources such as the BBC and Reuters.

“It is still a bit robotic and can make a few mistakes but we are never going to have completely natural sounding voices and it is not bad,” said Speegle founder Gordon Renton.

“The system is ideal for people with blurred vision or for those that just want to search for something in the background while they do something else.

“We are not saying that it will be suitable for totally blind people, although the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) is looking at the technology,” he added.

More here.