Over the summer, my state assistive technology specialist recommended that I try out the E-Bot Pro to help with accessing materials in college. Ever since then, I have used the E-Bot Pro in many of my classes, and I wish it was around in high school. Here is my E-Bot Pro review and how I use the device in the college classroom.
What is the E-Bot Pro?
The E-Bot Pro by HIMS inc., is a relatively new CCTV that looks like a projector. It can be cast onto an iPad screen via the E-Bot Pro app or plugged into a larger monitor, though I typically find myself using it on my iPad. It is controlled using either a joystick or on the touch screen of the iPad using familiar gestures like pinch to zoom in and dragging a finger across the display to move the camera.
E-Bot Pro Cost
The E-Bot Pro costs $3,500 and there are no purchase links available at this time.
I received my E-Bot Pro at no cost to me as part of my vocational rehabilitation services through the Department of Blind and Visually Impaired, since it helps me succeed in school and achieve my goal of employment. Another option is to talk to your school district’s assistive technology or vision impairment coordinator about buying the device.
- Benefits of having a state file with the Department of Blind and Vision Impaired
- Vocational Rehabilitation for students with vision impairments
E-Bot Pro Hardware Interface
The E-Bot Pro takes up only about 12″ of space on a desk, though I would recommend having a two desk setup or a large table to use it on just so you don’t risk knocking it over. Before use, just unfold the CCTV and connect it to a screen. Users can do this by using external cables or by connecting to the devices built-in wifi hotspot.
Another cool thing the camera does is rotate. I’m not limited to seeing just what’s directly below the camera- it rotates about 270°. I find this especially helpful when the professor is drawing on the board, and have also used the functionality to read signs outside my window. The camera isn’t loud at all and it doesn’t distract other students.
E-Bot Pro Software Interface
The E-Bot Pro broadcasts its display to another screen, such as a monitor or iPad. To connect a device to the E-Bot Pro, follow these instructions:
- Turn on the E-Bot Pro
- Go to your device’s wifi settings
- Connect to the E-Bot Pro wifi network
- Open the E-Bot Pro app on your device
Users can control the device with a joystick or by using the touchscreen on their device. The user can adjust the display entirely with gestures. There is a built-in screen reader and the app is compatible with pre-existing accessibility settings.
E-Bot Pro for Low Vision
I was blown away by how clear text reads on the E-Bot Pro, especially with fonts that tend to be blurry for me such as Times New Roman. The images are shockingly clear and the zoom (up to 50x) is very easy to adjust. The system also is able to OCR documents and use its own built in screen reader and voice guide to help the user. I did find it had some issues with images that were very light gray, like pencil, and also with fonts smaller than 6 pt. In cases like this, I just ask someone to trace over the image using a high contrast marker or pen. Other than that, the camera works flawlessly, and I appreciate the automatic scrolling mode that allows the camera to move while I read information on the screen.
E-Bot Pro OCR
The E-Bot Pro can use OCR technology to scan in documents and read them out loud. This is especially helpful for users with fluctuating vision, but does not fully replace a traditional screen reader or accessible materials.
What I use it for
- Accessing materials in my geology class
- Taking exams in the classroom
- Completing a lab with lots of detail
- Seeing what’s on the board from the back of the room
How my teachers have reacted
Teachers and school administrators alike may panic over having a wireless device in the classroom. However, the E-Bot Pro is not connected by Bluetooth, but by its own wifi hotspot.
While the device is connected, the user cannot access any other internet sources, and if guided access is enabled, the device is restricted to only the E-Bot app. During exams, I have my screen facing a wall so people can’t see over my shoulder. Alternatively, I sit at the teacher’s desk and they monitor me as needed. It’s worth noting that the device is approved for standardized testing by many major providers.
Should I use the E-Bot Pro?
Overall, the E-Bot Pro is one of my favorite high-tech devices, and I would recommend it to anyone who is semi-proficient with technology, or at least with the iPad.