I was at a low vision exam when I got on the subject of assistive technology with the ophthalmologist. He told me he had some “toys” that I could try out that would help me in the college classroom. At first, he brought out some colored filters to put on top of paper, and page guides. While these were cool, I have a special interest in high-tech devices, and was rather bored by the no-tech adaptations. But then he brought out the Eschenbach SmartLux, and I told my mom that I didn’t want to leave that day without one of my own.
The Eschenbach SmartLux is a video magnifier, sometimes referred to as a portable CCTV, that’s about the size of a smartphone. It can zoom in up to 12x and has its own built in kickstand on the back for hands free use. It uses large colorful buttons in order to control the device, with tactile labels to help assist users.
It has different contrast settings for the images, including natural light, white on black, black on white, black on yellow, and yellow on black. I typically work with black on white or black on yellow, unless I’m working with a photograph or another situation where color is important. In the white on black display mode, I am able to read even fine pencil marks, something I can’t do with any other device. It’s easy to operate since there are only four buttons- zoom in/out, change contrast, freeze image, and on/off. The display feels natural for me to read on, even in bright sunlight, but I also am used to reading on a screen for long periods of time. Read more about how to avoid eye strain with technology here.
This device is worth its eight ounce weight in gold. Last year for my literature class, we had to read a graphic novel that was not available digitally. Using the SmartLux, I was able to easily read the novel from a paper copy I got from the library. I’ve also used it in restaurants to read menus and to read forms, and it’s been fantastic. Because of its ability to detect pencil in high contrast displays, I’ve also been able to use it to view drawings from my highly talented friends. I could also see it working well for kids, magnifying items both inside and outside the classroom.
Even though it was expensive, costing $600, this little device has been perfect in situations where my E-Bot Pro would be too large or too heavy for me to transport. I can’t use conventional magnifying lenses due to the prism in my glasses, so these digital magnifiers have given me the freedom to access print materials along with my peers. I highly recommend the SmartLux for anyone that has low vision, vision impairment, or otherwise uses large print and encounters a lot of paper materials.