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Ask Slashdot: Best Webcam To Augment Impaired Vision?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the tickle-me-elmo-via-usb dept.

Input Devices 63

mynamestolen writes "In order to read paper-based books many visually impaired people want to attach a webcam to a computer and attach the computer to a TV. Some Electronic Magnifiers are purpose-built to provide a similar solution. Different organisations around the world (such as in the UK) have help pages. But I have not been able to find a guide to set up my own system. So I'm asking Slashdot readers how to go about it. What is the best camera to use if I want to hold the camera in my hand and point it at book or magazine? What parameters should I adjust, either in the software or on the camera? Depth of view, refresh rates, contrast, color balance and resolution might be key problems. My system is Linux and getting drivers for a good camera might also be a problem."

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Improve Vision? (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#42658973)

RedTube, or xHamster.

Re:Improve Vision? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#42658989)

Because now, you can see EVERYTHING. ;-)

Look at the prior art (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#42659065)

I know next to nothing about cameras, etc. However, I'd suggest you go look at the specs for some e-readers, if you can find them. I'd figure the design people for Amazon, B&N, or whoever else already did the homework on refresh rate, color balance, etc. to ensure readability.

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Easy (-1)

Nexion (1064) | about 2 years ago | (#42659071)

If you are using Windows (or any other OS with a built in magnifier) just get a video card that supports dual monitors,set them to be a spanned desktop, put the magnification viewer app on one and work on the other. Really, it is often as easy as buying the video card, installing it and using it's settings application. There is no generic way to give directions other then that. You'll have to use the directions from the company that made the video card for details in setting up a dual head configuration.

Re:Easy (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659315)

RTFQ much?

He asks a question about "In order to read paper-based books" and you babble about how easy it is to install a second video card into his book (a book which is also apparently running Windows)!

Re:Easy (0)

Nexion (1064) | about 2 years ago | (#42659961)

RTFQ much?

He asks a question about "In order to read paper-based books" and you babble about how easy it is to install a second video card into his book (a book which is also apparently running Windows)!

My apologies... I have a job and must skim much if I am to have time to read Slashdot. I'm so sorry that I took the extra time to quickly make a response I thought might help the OP. In the future I will refrain from being helpful, but for now I should point out that simply adding a camera, using the software that came with it, to my suggested configuration would do the trick. Didn't think of that, did you, coward? Hell, he could just use a very large monitor that can be turned 90 degrees and set a low resolution for that monitor, again with the camera software, to accomplish the desired effect. Didn't think of that either, but let us be honest... you don't post as AC to think or be helpful. No, like the majority of AC, you are just came on here to be an worthless jackass.

I would also suggest to OP, if using the 90 degree rotated monitor, that getting a camera that can have it's image rotated as well would make using this idea easier. I also suggest a camera that is high resolution. Enlarging a low quality image can cause the letters of the text to be a bit fuzzy.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42665671)

I admit babble was a bit harsh, but in my de-fence: http://xkcd.com/1163/ ;-)

Re:Easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42660247)

I take it you didn't see this part of it, or just chose to ignore it...

My system is Linux

Re:Easy (1)

Nexion (1064) | about 2 years ago | (#42660951)

I take it you didn't see this part of it, or just chose to ignore it...

My system is Linux

Did you not see I admitted to skimming the original post? Is it that you "can't read", or maybe you just skim a bit too much all the while failing to make any real contribution whatsoever. When suggesting the magnification software I also said "or any other OS with a built in magnifier". No... didn't see that? In fact everything I said translates to Linux, FreeBSD or OSX. To be more specific then the generalized, actually platform independent, response I gave would really just be advocacy of particular products. Perhaps you are too inexperienced to realize this fact. I could be wrong... maybe you'll now surprise us with a superior suggestion to my own that would actually be useful to OP. I hope you'll excuse me if I forgo holding my breath in anticipation.

Never the less, thanks AC, your post was as enlightening as usual!

To those interested, the Ubuntu workstation I do my development on didn't seem to have a magnifier installed by default, but I'm sure I could apt-get something on the following list if needed:


Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42662151)

"Did you not see I admitted to skimming the original post? Is it that you "can't read", or maybe you just skim a bit too much all the while failing to make any real contribution whatsoever."

When I reply to a post I tend to read and re-read what I'm responding to. I don't repeatedly try to defend myself for providing no help whatsoever to the original post.

Logitech C610 + ZoomText (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659095)

I use a mix of platforms but for Windows where things are especially bad, I use a Logitech C610 (with and without a stand) combined with a product called ZoomText (version 10 has built-in CCTV functionality now).

Camcorder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42660401)

Get a Camcorder and hook it up to their TV. Seriously, it's that simple, Get a camcorder with HDMI out, mount it on a tripod, and run and HDMI cord under the rug.
No software needed. $300 for a camcorder and $40 for a tripod, $30 for a long HDMI cable. The camcorder has the light built in.

Re:Camcorder (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42661557)

Get a Camcorder and hook it up to their TV. Seriously, it's that simple, Get a camcorder with HDMI out, mount it on a tripod, and run and HDMI cord under the rug. No software needed. $300 for a camcorder and $40 for a tripod, $30 for a long HDMI cable. The camcorder has the light built in.

I'll second this, with the caveat that you don't need the newest, most expensive stuff to make it work - I've achieved perfectly usable results with nothing more than a $50 hi-8 camcorder and component cables (televisions do still have component hookups, right?).

Re:Logitech C610 + ZoomText (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:Logitech C610 + ZoomText (1)

Bob Ince (79199) | about 2 years ago | (#42667717)

Under Linux, I'm using a C615 with a Python OpenCV script to push it onto the screen.

The important point with using a webcam is that it needs to be able to focus at very short distances - the cheaper cams I've tried fail to produce sharp images when placed close enough to the book. Unfortunately this capability doesn't seem to get mentioned in the specs.

Does anyone know of cams with a good short-range focus other than Logitech C61x?

Re:Logitech C610 + ZoomText (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42668459)

I find the Microsoft LifeCam HD works better with ZoomText. The focal length is longer so you have the have the camera further from your desktop with allows more convenient movement of whatever you are reading, and the image is sharper. Of course if you go with one of the higher end Logitechs, it would likely look the same. AISquared simply opted for the cheapest HD camera to sell with the mount.

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how much zoom do you need? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659121)

It might be easier to set up a little copy stand/tripod rig. Lay the book down, lock in the focus, and all you need to do is flip the pages.

Get a dedicated magnifier (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659181)

Instead of hacking together your own solution, look for non-certified ones online. My grandmother got one for $20-30, i don't remember how much exactly, that she can use in the reading stand that was included or use with her hand (which, unless you have really steady hands, is a bad idea). It is fully adjustable in terms of DoF, zoom, etc. and can even invert colors with the flip of a switch. The real bonus is that it attaches directly to either the TV or the computer. Its so easy, she even takes it to other people's homes.

Another piece of advice, try to have an HD screen that has a proper white and black level and good contrast. According to her, it makes a world of difference compared to her old tv that was 30 years old..

Re:Get a dedicated magnifier (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#42659427)

My mom still uses a 20 years old Nokia TV that simply refuses to die. SCART is a blight upon men!
Just this weekend she asked me how to connect her tablet to that ... thing.

Don't underestimate how few people have old TV sets. Especially when high resolutions are wasted due to bad vision.

ColorMouse USB CCTV Magnifier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659229)

It's way overpriced and you can probably build one but this device has worked well for me for years.
This is for Windows so good luck with Linux drivers.


For people who don't know (4, Informative)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 2 years ago | (#42659241)

Machines have been around for ages that you can use to read a book on a large screen with different levels of magnification, it has a tray that you can move around easily and it has a small CCD camera hooked up to a TV screen.

When I was in school in the 80s I used a VisualTech CCD magnifier, in fact they're still around: http://www.visual-techconnection.com/cctvs1.htm [visual-tec...ection.com]

However since most of us have computers these days it's hard to justify having such a bulky device around for books.

So what are the options:
1. Get eBooks and zoom in to your hearts content
(problem: not all books are available in eBook form)
2. Get large print copy of the book you want to read
(problem: same as above, enlargement might be impractical or unavailable [your library mileage may vary])
3. Get a stand alone magnifier device for yer book readin'
(compatible with most books and sidesteps copyright issues)

I can see how people think that computer + webcam + tray = book reader, so I'm interested to see if anyone out there in candyland has found a good setup for this.

But yes, this is a thing that visually impaired people have to deal with that so far only seems to have been solved by a handful of companies.

Re:For people who don't know (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#42659839)

Since the question is rolling your own perhaps Document Cameras [wikipedia.org] designed specifically for the task would be a better choice. They can be connected to multiple types of displays no computer needed. It was mentioned he wanted to hold the camera but also connect the PC to a TV. One makes me think he wants a mobile solution the other could use a stationary device.

Here are a couple of places from a quick search
TouchBoard [touchboards.com]
School House Outfitters [schooloutfitters.com]

Re:For people who don't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659947)

The problem with document cameras is they are aimed at schools, which usually get grant money to buy them. The prices reflect that they are bought with someone else's money

Re:For people who don't know (1)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | about 2 years ago | (#42660383)

Sure, but something like ELMO also directly supports HDMI directly (cutting out the computer) and comes with its own mount. Once plugged into the TV it's as close to a turnkey solution as you're going to get. ELMO document cameras can get pretty expensive as you said, but you can find cheaper/older models (new) for a few hundred dollars.

Re:For people who don't know (3, Interesting)

AntEater (16627) | about 2 years ago | (#42661017)

There are some issues here that you're not addressing and most of them are economic. I have a family member that is legally blind and can only read with massive magnification. These CCD units are great but they cost thousands of dollars. Admittedly, it's a limited market but the manufacturers price the units assuming that some state or federal agency will be buying them - not the end user. They are dead simple with today's technology but still are priced like they're wired with gold circuits. If someone can find a supporting government or non-profit agency to help them, then they're good to go. Otherwise, they need to cough up a big chunk of cash which isn't easy for someone with very limited financial resources, as most visually impaired individuals tend to be.

Ebooks are expensive. Large print books are expensive and very, very limited in availability. Traditional lense magnifiers often do not provide adequate magnification or do not address the visual difficulty sufficiently.

When I was first looking at purchasing one of these units I was seriously outraged at the prices charged for a system that has less than $100 worth of hardware. They are essentially little more than a simple flat panel monitor, web camera, LED light and some light image processing software (invert, color masks, etc) on a stand that allows the book to slide around. I would absolutely *LOVE* to see someone come up with a good system for putting a webcam and small system together for reading - it would be great to open up the opportunities for people without the means or assistance to get a reader and, almost as wonderful, would be to put the screws to these companies that are charging such a ridiculous markup on the hardware. Unfortunately, the quality of web cameras isn't that hot but maybe there are some exceptions. I wonder if this could make for a cool Raspberry Pi project.

Re:For people who don't know (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 2 years ago | (#42662383)

One of the recommendations I made was enlargement which some libraries are sometimes capable of doing at request or are members of partnerships with institutions/groups that provide materials for the visually impaired. If a book does not yet exist in large print form they can make them (at a cost of materials usually).

I live in Canada, so I was helped through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), I'm sure there must be a regional equivalent where you live, get in contact with them and they should be able to give you more options.

Re:For people who don't know (2)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 2 years ago | (#42664903)

Ebooks are expensive. Large print books are expensive and very, very limited in availability.

Bookshare.org membership is $50/year, unless you're a student or too poor, in which case it's free. They have 175K-ish ebooks for anyone with a print reading disability, and they're adding more all the time. I read a book every week or two from them. I strongly recommend having a screen reader play them rather than suffering with something like 40 WPM if your vision is over 20/200. I listen between 600 and 800 WPM, and enjoy books now more than ever. i translate them into wav files, and play them on my Android phone while doing chores or taking a walk. it's awesome.

UVC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659251)

You can avoid the driver problems by getting a webcam which implements the UVC (USB Video device Class). Just like you don't need a special driver for your USB flash memory stick, UVC webcams use a generic driver. UVC webcams work out of the box with any modern operating system.

Re:UVC (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#42659563)

getting a webcam which implements the UVC (USB Video device Class)

Agreed. I was going to recommend a high-res Logitech that I have but it's not currently made. However their C920 [amazon.com] has a tripod mount (finally!) is well-reviewed and has a higher resolution with the reviewers talking about the stability of the autofocus on extreme close-ups, so I'd probably buy this one with a heavy wide-base tripod (like this [amazon.com] if I were going to try to do this kind of build. A clip-on light with a gooseneck will probably make things look better too.

Wasted step. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659277)

Just get the book as an ebook format and zoom it up however far you want.

Any of the tablet readers would be fine for that. Higher end ones would have the camera built in to mag stuff you can't find in ebook formats.

Less wires. one screen. much less screwing around.

Magnifying Glasses (2, Funny)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#42659295)

My grandma used big, huge magnifying glasses.
Are we hitting some kind of magnifying barrier or why the Rube-Goldberg solution?

It's propably easier on the ants, tho.

why webcam? (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42659307)

I'm mystified why it has to be a webcam, other than the joy of complexity.

I am personally involved in two "scenes" where other participants a couple decades grayer than myself need similar tech and both use plain ole cameras hooked up to TVs.

I can easily solder 0402 SMD by hand (I kid you not, and I've assembled working N5AC microwave oscillator kits to prove it.. the main vco inductor is a 0402 as are a bunch of the bypass caps. Also I know several model machinists (of the homemade steam engine variety) who use toolpost mounted microscopes to see little stuff, also some of them are pretty young, like the guys trying to machine a research medical adapter between a hypo needle and some medical research "thing".

Anyway the killer for hand/eye coordination is latency. A simple camcorder is fast enough, a webcam no freaking way. Also the "boot time" of a camcorder is faster than any PC, not to mention "application launch". No software updates, no viruses (other than the ones you're looking at under the microscope LOL).

I do know that one huge user of "webcam glued to gear" is medical examiners / pathologists because its easier to import CSI style evidence into a report edited on a computer if you use a webcam. Otherwise stay away from webcams !

Re:why webcam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659723)


Re:why webcam? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#42659995)

Mostly because people want to involve complexity. There are a LOT of optical only solutions that will work better than any webcam+PC+TV setup on this planet.

I suggest NOT helping grandma this way. get them something that does not need to be booted and will work without a virus scanner.

Re:why webcam? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#42660905)

Mostly because people want to involve complexity. There are a LOT of optical only solutions that will work better than any webcam+PC+TV setup on this planet.

I suggest NOT helping grandma this way. get them something that does not need to be booted and will work without a virus scanner.

Yeah, it seems ye olde camcorder, while costing maybe a bit more than a decent webcam (still, you can find an HD camcorder on clearance for under $200) would fulfill the need quite nicely.

If it's an HDTV, use an HDMI cable and you have a practically zero lag reading magnifier.

I'm sure a digital camera can serve the purpose just as well too. Maybe even an old smartphone with a rear camera and "flash".

Re:why webcam? (2)

AntEater (16627) | about 2 years ago | (#42661105)

I'm mystified why it has to be a webcam, other than the joy of complexity.

It's more than just senseless complexity. Some visual impairments are helped significantly by having the ability to invert the colors, convert to grey scale, convert to straight up black and white, filter out certain colors, provide a reading "line" which can easily be done with software but not so easily with a basic camera - not that it is impossible. Today, a web camera and 20" flat panel monitor can be purchased for less than 10% of the cost of a commercial CCTV magnification system. I do agree that a typical web camera seriously lacks in quality.

Re:why webcam? (2)

jonadab (583620) | about 2 years ago | (#42661637)

> I'm mystified why it has to be a webcam, other than the joy of complexity.

It's an example of the X Y problem, documented thoroughly here:

Complexity has nothing to do with it. People see advertisements for uber-cheap webcams, know that webcams are designed to be hooked up to a computer, and think to themselves, "Maybe one of those things will solve my problem, and I'll only be out eight bucks!"

The question _should_ read, "Dad can't read anything less than a 36-point font, and his vision keeps getting worse, but he loves to read books. What's the cheapest way to solve my problem? Will a cheap webcam somehow solve this? Some other option?" But most folks don't have enough experience with tech support (or in some cases just plain don't think clearly enough) to know that they should word the question that way.

Re:why webcam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42662423)

Cheap DSLR with HDMI video out and power in, height adjustable stand for the camera, cheap macro lens, HDMI capture card, enough high-CRI leds for nice lighting and you are good to go?

Re:why webcam? (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | about 2 years ago | (#42663253)


Phew, stopped it.

Re:why webcam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42667549)

Easy for you to say.

Re:why webcam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42666433)

Agreed. I've set up several of the expensive gear before, and you can replicate it at a basic level exactly that way.
-one moderately sized flat panel that takes composite video. Any TV will work, or hack a socket onto your monitor.
-one cheapish video camera that can output to composite video.You don't need high resolution or colour, but autofocus and automatic contrast adjustment are useful features (but not required). I had some luck with second-hand security cameras.
-decent lighting. Dedicate a bit of bench space to this next to the screen and make sure it's well lit.
-optional: some sort of rig to hold the camera. An old desk lamp stand will work great.

Plug the camera into the TV, point it at your document, and start reading. You might be able to set this up without spending a cent.

How about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42659311)

Here is a plug for the Non Profit Originisation I work for... Vision Australia

how about something like this?


can be connected to the TV so I guess you could use a capture card to pull the image to your pc?

I'm not sure if there is one out there that directly interfaces with a PC say through USB though

The camera makes little difference... (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 2 years ago | (#42659333)

The camera makes little difference for still program material. Color balance is typically handled automatically, but can always be adjusted.

I would say that you are focusing on the wrong aspect of your system - coming up with a good stand is probably going to affect usability much ore an the camera. I would suggest starting with a nice copy stand and maybe going from there.

Re:The camera makes little difference... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42659475)

coming up with a good stand is probably going to affect usability much ore an the camera.

Talk to a real photographer or optical dude about depth of focus, which is going to be a big deal. The "ideal stand" from a focusing standpoint may not be flat, although that's going to screw up astigmatism of the lens system (square won't be square on the screen)... Also lighting is incredibly important. Its surprising how much noise and garbage your eyes filter out on a live model that is glaring ugly on a fixed image, and (real) photographers are experts at using tech to filter that stuff out before it hits the camera. Find a pro who specializes in graphics art business static photos, like the guy who takes pix of food for the local restaurants, not a wedding photographer whos mostly good at avoiding photos showing zits... although some wedding photographers do good static work like staged pixs of rings and decorations and stuff.

Re:The camera makes little difference... (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 2 years ago | (#42662075)

I am a real photographer dumbass. I have been doing commercial photography for fifteen years. I use copy stands all the time. A good one will have several lights attached at the factory.

Anyway, depth of *field* is important to consider, but combining the fact that webcams have tiny sensors, with the fact that the system will be able to use longer exposures, makes the lens / camera system of secondary importance to the choice of stand, which will make all the difference. The teeny weeny sensors in webcams have very deep DOF, so this can be neglected at the outset. Sounds like the guy wants the cheapest thing he can bang together. Not a really good system.

Now that you know where to find a real photographer, I can correct some other terminology errors you have in your vocabulary. We do not use the term astigmatism, as it is vague in the photographic sense. Instead use barrel or pincushion distortion. Also,, an ideal stand will have the lens axis perfectly perpendicular to the axis of e material being imaged, so in that sense "perfectly flat" is an acceptable term to use when speaking to laymen such as yourself.

Steady Cam (1)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 2 years ago | (#42659413)

Software with a "steady cam" feature is a good. It will remove jitter that will occur from holding the camera with your hand.

Get good lighting. (1)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#42659461)

Webcams are often pretty poor quality. The main factor in cameras is the sensor size (not MP, but physical size - a big sensor captures more light). But a good sensor is more expensive, and heavy. And it's not fun trying to figure out webcam specs, as they are often simply not well publicised.

The first step - get good lighting. A bad camera with good lighting is better than a good camera with bad lighting. Unless you have something as powerful as a high-end DSLR, you simply need good lighting.

If you have good lighting, you can shoot at a lower ISO, which means less noise. You can shoot at a higher speed, which means a faster refresh (unless there's a bottleneck somewhere else - probably USB speed) and less blur. You can get a higher depth of field, even up close, so you don't have to focus. There's a reason why professional photographers, working with the best cameras money can buy, spend so much time setting up lots of lighting - most cameras are simply not at their best in low light.

Re:Get good lighting. (1)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | about 2 years ago | (#42659763)

I can't really see someone (successfully) holding a book in one hand, SLR in another, while also focusing their attention on a TV. I suppose if you used a camera stand, but then you might as well just use an ELMO (document camera, not the character) which was, quite frankly, designed for similar purposes and wouldn't cost you more than an average SLR. Not to mention I have yet to see a DSLR whose complexity of operation wouldn't get in the way of pleasure reading for something like this.

How bad is your vision? (2)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#42659499)

My in-laws have severe macular degeneration to the point that they gave up driving, and my mother-in-law loves to read, and we ended up buying a technician's visor with four magnifier lenses for her, and she's able to read paperback books with it. They had looked up expensive devices (one of the biggest vision-assistance companies is in the greater Boston area and they even went to the showroom) but found that this fairly simple optical solution worked best.

tablet / phone paired with MHL (1)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | about 2 years ago | (#42659635)

An Android device with a large screen and support for MHL would be ideal. It would be highly portable, given the widespread use of HDMI all you need is an adapter, and the cameras provided with most modern tablets/phones are as good (if not better) then most webcam solutions.

Re:tablet / phone paired with MHL (1)

Copper Nikus (1615089) | about 2 years ago | (#42659835)

Why bother with connecting to a TV when there are now android phones and tablets with built-in 1080p IPS screens?

Re:tablet / phone paired with MHL (1)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | about 2 years ago | (#42660129)

Because that was the whole point to the original article? I'm guessing a 7" or 10" tablet, magnified to the size he wants, isn't going to hold much text.

Now, if your question was, "why don't they just buy an ebook and increase the font size?", then I could agree with you. This comes off as a kind of a backward use of technology. One of the biggest reasons I prefer reading on various devices these days is because I can bump up the font size and read without having my contacts in. It may be it's a situation in which the books aren't available in a digital format. Some people still insist on preferring "real books," but this doesn't seem like a legitimate excuse when you involve as much technology as he is talking about.

Re:tablet / phone paired with MHL (1)

Copper Nikus (1615089) | about 2 years ago | (#42663785)

If grandma is going to sit at the normal 6 to 8 feet from the 1080p HDTV, I am not sure the text will be any more legible than on a 1080p 10 inch android tablet held 1 foot from here face. With a tablet-only solution the touch screen can provide a less intimidating and more intuitive user interface than a linux PC + mouse would. Finally, the tablet-only solution is a far more portable and uncomplicated setup. Grandma can read her paper books anywhere she wants (car, bus, train, front porch, doctor office waiting room, etc) using a tablet instead of always having to use the room where the big hdtv + clunky linux PC + clunky webcam + clunky mouse + table for the mouse happen to be.

Re:tablet / phone paired with MHL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42664739)

Pretty sure you're simply repeating my suggestion, the sole difference being grandma has an adapter at home, that looks just like the one she charges with, that immediately puts her tablet on the screen. The need for a tv is specified by the original article, not me.

Glossing over the title... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42660941)

"Breast webcam to augment impaired women"

Stupid brain.

What we used for facial recogintion system. (1)

ukoda (537183) | about 2 years ago | (#42664445)

Last year I set up a facial recogintion system. It needed to be able see faces in crowd clear enough to determine age and gender. While this is a different requirement from what you need it did share three features. It ran on Linux, used a webcam, and needed high quality. The recommend cameras, which we used succesfully, were the Logitech HD series. While not a cheap camera I think they are still reasonably priced, do a good job and work with Linux (Cent OS in our case).

Electronic & optical choices (1)

a-zA-Z0-9$_.+!*'(),x (1468865) | about 2 years ago | (#42665705)

You may already have a digital camera (still or camcorder)with video or hdmi out which you can plug into a TV or monitor. These have the advantage of zoom and autofocus and often have a power input for continuous use. It's steadier and less tiring to use a tripod or copy stand. For camcorders, see the thread at http://www.avsforum.com/t/1302280/low-cost-cam-with-live-hdmi-pass-through [avsforum.com] Another choice is to get some strong binocular loupe glasses from China via ebay. They come in a variety of strengths and you can examine or read by moving the material in front of you. They are cheap ($1-50) and portable. Some come with their own LED illuminators. Search for binocular loupe

My current experience (1)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#42666607)

My Dad has degenerating eyes (only one eye works) but he says if he couldn't read spy novels he doesn't know what he'd do. He is not into technology. He uses a simple hand-held magnifying glass to read large-print novels from the library. We got him a hand-held one with big lens and LED but the brightness startled him (he's in his 80s) and the magnification was inappropriate, or something, can't use it. Though we'll try again maybe. Assistive tools (we've also been trying a new cheap hearing aid but not sure if that's going to work...) are not easy, and not welcomed always by aged people... in other words you could invest money to make a system and find out he/she prefers not to use it.
We have a huge screen tv which he can't use, the contrast ratio is not high enough for him to see ordinary tv. I don't have high hopes for him using that with a hand-held camera.
I can imagine a 10" android tablet with an extremely light-weight wireless camera, I don't know if there is a high enough resolution one with an android phone that could work.. that would also give him something to call for help if he fell or something.
I had an idea to research a diy book reader like what already exists with a big screen and a camera, and things that hold pages down, but maybe getting a really large tablet and using e-books is the best. The big print books from the library are hard-cover thousands of pages monstrosities!
If you have any ideas let me know. The obvious answer is not always the best.

Think outside the box... (1)

Ponder Stibions (962426) | about 2 years ago | (#42666811)

I know it doesn't fit the 'hand held' part of the requirements, but in education there's a tool designed for viewing printed documents on a projector.
SMART does a document camera which has a built in stand to hold it over the text, an LED light to help in low light conditions, and will output to VGA or DVI/HDMI directly with no need for a computer, so you can just plug straight into a modern TV or any computer monitor. It also can act as a USB webcam as well.
It does wonderful resolution (720p isn't bad for what is basically a webcam) - the only downside is the price: £450 - there are cheaper alternitives by other brands but they lack the image quality and often the direct VGA outputs.

Scanners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42676657)

Have you considered just using a regular flatbed scanner at 300 or 600 or 1200 DPI and whatever gif/jpeg/png image viewer you like to zoom in and out and move around?

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