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Video Magnification System for Seniors? 35

Posted by Cliff
from the reading-the-fine-print dept.
c4tp's friend asks: "Recently my Mother informed me that my grandmother's 80th birthday is approaching. She suffers from glaucoma and it is rather hard to read small text for her. The consensus with our family is to buy her a video magnification device, but the ones I found online were at the minimum of $500 (US), a bit steep for me (and my family). So what I am asking basically, is there a way to build/assemble the parts these retail devices use for a cheaper price?"
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Video Magnification System for Seniors?

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  • go rent brazil, directed by terry gilliam, one of they monty python guys. very good movie. see those itsy bitsy monitors they have? infront of them is one of those flat magenfying glass things that come in those kid's science kits. they're plastic and have concentric circles. you commonly see them in the rear window of RV's.... you could probably pick one up for a cool $20 at the RV store that comes in a 25" size.
    • Dunno about RV use, but it's called a Fresnel lens, most common use I've seen is in overhead transparency projectors
      • here's a link that gives a pretty good explination for them. they use in the reverse application that the ask slashdotter would use them for.

        http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-hitches/rv -rear-view-lens.htm

        p.s. i love your username, what's the story behind it?
  • Built In (Score:1, Offtopic)


    I'm sure folks from the Dark Side will chime in if it's possible in Windows, but for sure Mac OS X and 9 have the capability to magnify text under the mouse. OS 9 required an addition from the CD, IIRC; OS X lists the ability as just another system preference. This is all in addition to text-to-speech abilities built in to the system, both in 9 and X, which is one thing I don't think Windows includes.

    So, once again, buy a Mac.
    • No, just keep your PC.

      Windows Key + U

      Choose "Magnifier" for magnification
      Choose "Narrator" for audio

      Or just turn on the high-contrast, large font theme.

      Windows has had accessibility features like a magnifier and high constrast since 1995. Apple is just catching up.

      Sorry, Apple zealot.
  • Is it not an option to change the display font size? I'd think that would be the most optimal course of action here.
    • Uh...this has nothing to do with a computer. This is for taking video of something small, like the ingredients list on the side of a Coke can, and projecting it on a monitor so Grandma can make it out.

      To answer the question: Yes. You can find NTSC video camera modules in the electronic surplus catalogs, many of them for well under $100. Couple that with a TV screen and you're good. For book reading, build a little wood-and-metal stand, or hack a one of those swingarm lamps/magnifiers (take out the big lens
  • by c4tp's friend (658237) on Monday April 28, 2003 @03:50PM (#5828012) Journal
    What I meant was say you take a piece of paper, maybe the daily paper, and you put it under this device, the device blows up your paper, onto a television screen, so you can see the writing more clearly. I did not mean enlarging things on computer screens.
    • Ah...that's what I thought. Like I said below, have you thought of using a cheap overhead projector (like this one [wisc.edu])? I've seen them on Ebay for under $50.

      My wife's grandmother had issues with her hearing, so we started to send her faxes instead of calling her. If her eyesight started to fail, we could put transparencies into her fax machine and set her up with a small overhead projector in a back room. When she had a hard time reading the fax, she'd just put it on the Dukane in the back room to read it off the wall, which was plenty big for her to read. This would even work with single-page documents, where she could feed them into the fax as a copier, which would put the text on the transparency. This of course wouldn't work so well for books and newspapers.

    • In our distance learning classes we have an 'elmo' that looks like an overhead, but is basically a webcam on a stick overlooking the overhead area... you can put worksheets under it or whatever, and it shows up on the computer screen. I can't imagine it being very hard to build with a webcam and an svideo connection.
  • Folks, I believe the original poster is looking for a device that will enlarge text of books and print, not emails and online text, but I could be wrong.

    He's saying that a $500 device is too costly, which I believe would rule out a decent PC and scanner that's rigged to be easy enough for a non-techie-type to operate.

    The first thing that came to mind was some sort of cheap overhead projector (not the expensive types that take video-in, but the ones that take transparencies and such). She could then pro

  • Here's a device [seniorshops.com] for you. It's low-priced AND easy to use.
  • by r_naked (150044) on Monday April 28, 2003 @03:53PM (#5828053) Homepage
    If I read the question correctly ... I think he is looking for some kind of camera / monitor setup that can be used to project / magnify on the monitor.... If that is the case I doubt he is going to find one for less than $500.00.

    First you need a Camera [pricegrabber.com].
    Then you need an Arm [pricegrabber.com]. (That is IF this is the type of arm I think it is)
    Finally you need a Monitor (which I could not find one that took composite inputs for cheap AND still have the resolution to display a high quality image). But you can guess that it is gonna be ~$300.00.

    So if you add all that up ... you get > $500.00.

    Just my >$500.00 worth (sorry, bad joke -1)

    --Brian
    • Well I can see I am probably gonna get marked redundant because of all the time I took to try and find cheap components ... (ohhh wellzerz).

      What I would also like to point out to all the people that keep saying "use a magnifying glass" -- well what if the person has palsy, or for some other reason can not easily hold one.

      Just something to think on...

      --Brian
  • they work wonders, about 5-10 dollars US.

    also, you weren't too specific about what type of video is she looking at, tv or computer monitor?

    If she's using a tv, not sure what to recommend for that, but as a child, I would sit really close to the tv. Granted that might worsen the glacouma.

    If it's a computer, you're referring to, then there's built in accessibility in windows. I know windows 2000 has it builtin, under Accessories, under Usability. It's caled Magnifier.
  • There are many available products which do this. Look around for one of the flat plastic magnifying lenses which are designed specifically for this purpose. It's analog and old school but they cost less than $10.

    You lay them over what you want to read and voila... small text becomes big.
  • by fuzzy1 (128925)
    http://www.x10.com camera to tv
    typically $80 to $150 and spam sales
    frequently. Work fine as wireless
    so you can move around with it.

    I have used it to videotape meeting notes
    from the whiteboard.

    rcb
  • The drivers for Matrox video cards come with a program called 'Desknav' that magnifies the entire screen, scrolling it as your cursor touches the edge. The computer is controllable from the magnified display. If you've got an old Matrox card lying around, give it a shot - it works with an old Matrox Millenium (NOT Millenium 2) I've got, so I'm sure it'll work with anything you have.
  • What exactly are you looking for? Something to magnify printed text or something on a monitor? Try www.maxiaids.com
  • by laard (35526)
    I've used devices made by Elmo [elmousa.com], and from my experience, they are little more than a cheap camera mounted with zoom/focus controls on the base... you could probably mount an old camcorder over a well lit surface to do something similar, especially if you had one with a remote.
  • What we did when my Grandfather started losing his sight is set up a scanner so that he could just zoom in in the ways the other posters have suggested.

    I can see this being a problem because it's possible that your Grandmother doesn't have a computer or the slightest idea about how to use them (like my Grandmother).

    On another note, we had a program called kurzweil when I worked in a library. It would automatically scan text, OCR it, and read it out Stephen Hawking style. It was pretty slick except for t
  • We've been looking for something like this for my grandma as well. To give you examples of things closer to what this reader and I are looking for, take a look at http://www.southwestlowvision.com/video.htm#max [southwestlowvision.com]

    A magnifying glass is a nice, cheap solution, but nothing like what a magnifying device like this can do for you. Ever tried to use a large magnifying glass to read something? They're heavy. It's hard to hold them and your reading item at the same time, especially for someone that's elderly. And the

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