View Full Version : OT: Web Cam Resolution/ Reading for Vision Impaired

11-17-2014, 07:56 AM
My mother is going blind due to macular degeneration (AMD). She is a writer and reader. For reading, unfortunately, she likes paper books, not e-books. I think it has to do with garage sale and church sale books at little to no cost (though money is no object, it's just the way that generation is). So, my father is searching for some device that could take a picture of a paper page and relay it, magnified of course, to a monitor. Resolution is obviously paramount to success, but ease of use is something I'm also concerned about. I think a simple web cam would not address enough of either of my concerns.

I am going to try to talk them once again into e-books, which is essentially what a picture on a screen would be anyway. But they are both old and stubborn, so Iím not holding my breath. I just have no idea where to start researching such a device. I would like to have some sort of alternate solution when they deny the e-book route.

Anyone know of a similar issue with moms or dads or friends?

A.K. Boomer
11-17-2014, 09:10 AM
Hmm - don't typical web-cams have a zoom with focus?

but what a hassle I would think, although she could wear one on a headband and anywhere she aims at the page would then be in view on the monitor - still sounds a little uncomfortable, would have to have the book either lower or higher than the monitor and the cam adjusted for it every time.

I thought they made made magnifying devises with a reading screen that you just place over the page and it's all amplified right in front of you, even if she would have to sit at a drafting table with a slight angle it could be worth it...

good luck anything you can do to keep her going that way is worth it.

11-17-2014, 09:39 AM
Personally I use Web cam + Word + Magnifier in windows 8.1.

11-17-2014, 09:51 AM
My mother who also suffers from macular degeneration bought a device from a company called Da Vinci I think that will do what you're looking for. It also has a way to capture text and do a text-to-speech if needed. It wasn't cheap and my mother had some difficulty understanding the directions for use, but that's one alternative designed to address the issue.

Old Hat
11-17-2014, 10:09 AM
I just attempted to read the big colored Google in the middle of the monitor in my side vision.
Wow, that didn't work too well.

So I tried it with my head horizontal, with the Google outside to the right
and outside to the left.
Surprisingly with the letters in a collomn rather than a horizontal row
I was able to read it a little further out-side of central vision.

11-17-2014, 11:17 AM
There's a variety of head band magnifiers such as the OptiVisor which might be useful for such a purpose. Some have LED lights on them, which might help illuminate the page. I haven't tried the OptiVisor (or equivalent) myself, so I don't know how well it would work for this.

There was a device they used at my college which was basically an digital overhead projector. I don't know what it was called, but it hooked to the ceiling mount projector and would show whatever you put on the platform.

Hope this helps,


Mike Amick
11-17-2014, 02:21 PM
Not exactly answering the question .. but.. someone should show her a kindle with the white
display. My wife similarly hated reading a computer type screen, but I bought her a kindle
(only the white display one) and its amazing. It is exactly like a printed page, in bright
sunlight it gets even better. And you can hit a button and make the font as big as you want.

Many many books are free or very cheap. And until you actually view one of these displays
you just wouldn't understand. Seriously.

And you can carry hundreds (or more) books with you in a form factor of a small tablet.

Note that it is designed exclusively for this purpose and is not designed for any kind of
internet activity. Its just a cool book with an interface of a book.

Mike A

Alistair Hosie
11-17-2014, 02:30 PM
In the uk there is a charity ,or perhaps it is government subsidised set up for such a scenario.My father in law was registered blind and Bronwen my wife was also registered as visually impared she has had since to cataract ops done with great success,as she was for a while really nearly blind.In both cases they were all supplied with a talking book service whereby you could listen to your favourite authors read by some very good and sometimes famous people acotrs etc.I know this may not be suitable for your dear mother but it might be helpful I wish the dear lady every good wish for her future, Alistair

michigan doug
11-17-2014, 04:15 PM
That was my first thought. Buy her a kindle paperwhite and load it up with 10 books in her favorite genre. Bet you can't get it back when she finishes the second book.

It's a hundred dollar experiment, and if it doesn't work out, you can -easily- sell it for 50-60.

The local library likely loans ebooks too, and probably available online without too much fuss.

A free book from the library is cheaper than a .25 book from the garage sale.

Plus, she could take 50 books with her on vacation in half the space of one paperback.

The paper white (e-ink) also has the advantage of 2 month battery life before you need to charge again.

The e-ink display definitely causes less eye strain than an active back-lit screen. No damage with either, but the paper white is nicer to read.

You can't read them in the dark, if that's a big deal. I think the newest one might have a light...



tyrone shewlaces
11-17-2014, 05:53 PM
My Mom also has Macular Degeneration.

Check locally for some kind of association for the blind. Ours came by and showed her several different kinds of aids to help her deal with life with her condition. One thing they had was a magnifying table which works kind of like the old microfiche machines. It has adjustable zoom and brightness and a couple other settings for her to fiddle with until it's as comfortable to use as possible. With this device she can read mail and phone books and such and without it she can't even recognize faces, so it helps her a lot. Through the local association for the blind, she has been given a few devices which help her get through the day and none of it cost anything. It's worth checking out.

The nice thing is a counselor or whatever they are called came by her house and showed her a bunch of things they have available for her to try out. Many of the devices didn't help so they just skipped those. The ones that helped were free for her to use. Setting it up for her to try out in her own home setting is extremely helpful.

One thought I had was that a kindle may or may not help. The problem with M.D. is that you are left with only peripheral vision. If the image isn't large enough to reach your peripheral vision while still being far enough away to be able to focus somewhat, then there is still nothing for them to see. In other words, you kind of need a large screen - large print in itself helps some but not as much as having it on a large field of view.

11-17-2014, 08:34 PM
This is one company that makes systems for exactly your moms situation:


I am sure there are other companies that make similar systems. My mother in law has had vision issues for many years and got one of the first gen systems from this place. It was pretty much a CCTV camera with appropriate optics and high res (for the day) monitor with lighting and a guided X-Y stage for the book to sit on.
Large and pretty low-tech by today's standards but worked well and she still has the thing. And it still works. She does most of her reading on a computer monitor now, but this was a good product. No idea how their current offerings stack up.
Food for thought.

11-17-2014, 09:22 PM
Try this site

11-18-2014, 07:55 AM
My thanks to you all. I forwarded the magnifying device sites and suggestions, and later talked to them about options. As I could imagine, they are hesitant to pull the trigger on a 3K magnifying machine, since no one know how long she will have enough sight to use it. We tried the Kindle and Nook readers (I have one brand and the War Wagon has the other). Even with the font in the largest setting, the readers were a no-go.

However, and this is amazing to me, they are going to look more closely at simple e-books to download to the desktop. She swore she wasn't interested, but apparently times have changed. Books on tape is another option that shows promise. And dad, in all his 90 odd years of living, has decided to purchase a decent web-cam and build a hanging device to "simulate" the magnisights (sans the talk).

They are a pair. God love em both.

michigan doug
11-18-2014, 10:34 AM
The kindles can also read the e-books out loud, so that gives you vastly more choice than just the books on tape.

Admittedly, it's not a human voice, but I found it not so distracting.

For an in-depth consult, you want an optometrist that specializes in low vision. You can call any optometrist in the area, and if they don't do low vision work, they will know who does.


Paul Alciatore
11-18-2014, 02:43 PM
Book to computer screen?


Use a scanner. Place book on scanner. Scan and save page. Bring up in any image viewer. Microsoft viewer has variable magnification built in and can pan around easily. Other viewers are available if desired.

The "all in one" style printers have the scanning feature and they cost less than $100. You can get one at Wal-Mart.