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Technology Watch - January 2006
Design Projects | Ergonomics | Section 508 | Case Studies | Qualifications | RTS Info
Tech Watch | Links | Accessible Web Design
Augmentative Communication | Internship/Co-op & Job Bank | Contact
Technology Watch for January 2002
Technology Watch for February 2001
Technology Watch for March 2001
Technology Watch for April 2001
Technology Watch for May 2001
Technology Watch for June 2001
Technology Watch for July 2001
Technology Watch for August 2005
Technology Watch for September 2005
Technology Watch for October 2005
Technology Watch for November 2005
Technology Watch for December 2005
image of keyboard with joystick and backlit keyboard
InduKey, Industrial Input Devices - 3 January 2006
    This company makes a wide variety of keyboards and mice for industrial use. Their devices are very durable and sealed against dust, water, and chemicals, and they have stand alone devices, as well as those that can be integrated or bolted into a workstation. Pictured above are 2 examples, including a keyboard with an integrated joystick mouse which could be used by someone with repetitive stress injury or poor hand control, and a back lit keyboard that may be useful to someone with low vision.

For more information visit:
Image of Rubbermaid Ladder Carts
Ladder Carts from Rubbermaid - 5 January 2006
    I frequently work with maintenance guys (electricians, plumbers, etc.) with muscular skeletal disorders, like bad backs, who have a difficulty time carrying around all their equipment through out the facility they work in. When you think about all the nuts, bolts, wires, fitting, and fixtures not to mention tools that one might need to carry, a cart seems like a good idea. But often times they need a step ladder to reach what ever they are working on, and a standard utility cart doesn't fit a six foot step ladder very well. In the past, there have been a few things that can be done to retrofit a ladder holder onto a cart, or you can get a really big cart (not good for people with back injuries).
    There is now a new product available from Rubbermaid. Two models of Ladder carts are available, 9T58 with shelves and a locking storage cabinet, and 9T57 with shelves only. The Rubbermaid commercial products website ( list prices them as $670 and $532 respectively. I found them on the C&H website ( for $419 and $339. Detailed specs are available on the Rubbermaid website.
Lomak by Lomak International LTD  19 January 2006

    In my initial run through of the exhibit hall, the first thing that caught my eye was a keyboard controlled with a laser head pointer. There used to be several on the market in the US, but as far as I know, there has been nothing available for a good 15 years.

Lomak light activated keyboard being used with a head pointer
Laser activated keyboard
Here is a list of new, unique, or otherwise interesting to me products I am looking at right now at ATIA 2006. Many of these products are prototypes or demo versions that are not available yet.

The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) holds an annual conference the third week of January in Orlando Florida annually. This was the 7th year for the conference, and my 5 year in attendance. The conference has grown significantly since I started going in 2001. Most of the technology displays are technology for education, augmentative communication, technology for visual impairments, with some computer access, independent living, and technology for hearing impairments. The web site for the conference is
    The lomak light operated keyboard and mouse, from Lomak International LTD of New Zealand introduced this keyboard in 2005, and is showing now at AITA in Orlando.
    This keyboard is designed specifically use with a light pointer, which can be attached to a head band or hand held, depending on the needs of the user. The keyboard is set up in a pin wheel or circular pattern, where the user selects the key and then hits a confirm key, rather than using a dwell and click selection method. All the keys on a standard keyboard are available, including the start key, application key, all the function keys, and number pad. Additionally, full mouse control is available. This is a USB keyboard/mouse, and no software is requiredit is plug and pray, uh I mean play.
    Right now, there are no distributors in the US, but there are several here at the conference and hopefully one of them picks up this product. It is expected to retail for around $1700, with an evaluation kit version available for about $2000. The manufacturer's web site is
VTI Select - Video Magnifier Workstation
Select by Vision Technology, Inc. 19 January 2006
    This is a new design of CCTV, sort of a video magnifier workstation. The magnifier has a flat panel display on an articulating arm and a camera on an arm. The arms are mounted on a central post which is attached to a base table. The flat screen is designed to be positioned on either the left or the right side of the machine. The camera is articulated and can be pointed at the table, or can be flipped up and focused on an object in the distance, such as a white board or video screen. The device pictured is a prototype, and still had a few issues, related to loose wires and programming, but the image was very clear, and looked responsive. It is expected to be released in late January or sometime in February 2006. the screen should be available in 15, 17, or 19" models. The 17" screen will go for $2600 to $2700, and the 19" screen for around $3000.

The manufacturer's web site is

Topaz Video Magnifier from Freedom Scientific
Opal handheld video magnifer
Opal handheld video magnifer with writing legs extended
Topaz Magnifiers  Freedom Scientific  20 January 2006
Freedom Scientific is introducing a new line of video magnifiers as part of their product line for people with low vision. Several prototypes are on display at ATIA 2006, including the 19 LCD version shown above. This line of video magnifiers is designed to have interchangeable parts, including the sliding table, support arm, camera, controls, and monitor or screen.
The model above has a 19" flat screen monitor. The controls are mounted to the base of the monitor, and the monitor is attached to the base with an articulating arm so that it is easily height adjustable. They claim the table has the largest travel of any on the market (16" on X axis and 10.5" on Y axis), and the largest work space between the table and camera (8.9").  The controls are high contrast and each control has a different color. Screen can be set to color, black and white, reverse contrast, and 28 other color combinations. The system can be set up to cycle through up to 16 color combinations, and can be reset to factory defaults. One of the neatest features in the variable friction break on the table. Unfortunately, it affects both axises at the same time. Systems come with a 3 year warrantee. The version shown above is not quite production, but they are expected to be ready to ship in February. The model with the 19" LCD should cost $2995. For more information see
Opal 400  Freedom Scientific  20 January 2006
    This is a handheld video magnifier still in prototype. They didn't have a working version to show at the conference, but it is expected to be ready for market sometime in March. This product as adjustable magnification, expected to go from 2x to 6.4x on a 4 inch screen. This device has a 3 hour battery life, an RCA jack to connect to a television, and has multiple color modes, for indoors and outdoors, and to enhance text.  The device is pocket sized (6"x3.8"x1") and weighs 10 ounces. It also has a carrying case. There are also some small legs to hold the camera off a surface so you can write under it. The legs on the prototype are really flimsy, but the product rep tells me they are being redesigned for durability. This product will cost $795.
For more information see

Laptop Docking station wit Braille Display and Braille Keyboard
Braille Star 40  Handy Tech Elektronik GmbH  20 January 2006
  This is a portable docking station, specifically designed for laptop computers. The system has a 40 cell Braille Display, and Braille keyboard for input. It has a self contained battery, and memory and can be used as a portable notetaker. It can interface with a computer or laptop, with a USB cable, or can connect with devices via BlueTooth. It also has a serial and PS2 plug in so a standard keyboard can be connected. The battery will power it for up to 20 hours as a stand alone note taker (when BlueTooth is not turned on). Cost is $5500. Go to for more information.
Enhanced Vision's Amigo Portable desktop Video magnifier
Amigo Side View
Amigo  Enhanced Vision  19 January 2006
This preproduction Portable Video Magnifier is due to ship in February 2006. Enhanced Vision describes this as a portable desktop video magnifier. The device has a 6.5" LCD screen, with a nice crisp image. This device can magnify images from 3 1/2 X to 14X, and the screen can tilt for different viewing angles. It comes with 2 batteries, each of which will power the Amigo for and hour and half. Some other nice features include 6 color modes including color, black and white, and reverse. The amigo can also be connected to a TV. The weaknesses of this device include is that there is not an integrated writing stand (these is a separate writing stand available), and it is a little to big to fit in a pocket, but it might fit in a large purse. Cost is $1695. For more information, visit

Carrymate  Clarity  20 January 2006
This new portable video magnifier is supposed to be available this winter, features battery power with a whopping 6 1/2 hours of charge and an 11" screen, capable of either close up or distance viewing. The device folds up, and weighs about 10 pounds. Multiple magnification color modes are available, as well as a decent magnification range.
Expected price is to be $2795.
Pluses include the long battery life, a clear image on the screen, and easy portability. Minuses are: the image shakes around on the screen if the table or desk is bumped which it can be really annoying at high magnification, and the screen is too small for people who need higher magnifications.
Available from Magnifying America at or Clarity at

Carry Mate Portable video Magnifier from Clarity
Carry mate showing magnified distance view
Carry Mate, All folded up
Patriot Platinum LCD-HDTV  Magnifying America  20 January 2006
This video magnifier base can be purchased with this large screen high definition LCD display to allow access to the video magnifier, a computer, the TV, and DVD. The image is absolutely beautiful, and the controls on the simple to use. The downside is the cost, and there controls to switch the display between the video magnifier, TV, computer, and DVD are not designed for use by people with low vision (i.e. they are small and do not contrast with the control surface).
Cost  if you have to ask, you can't afford it
Available from Magnifying America at

Patriot Platinum Very large screen video Magnifer/HDTV/DVD/Computer Interface
Voisec  Adaptivation  21 January 2006
This little tiny augmentative communication aid is a bare bones single switch device with no options and costs only $29. About 1 1/2" in diameter, it has no volume control, no on/off switch, and no frills. It can record a single 30 second message, which is hard to accidentally erase. If a child needs a communication aid, and a school balks at paying for a Big Mack or similar device, they have absolutely no excuse now. It is small enough to mount anywhere, and can be activated with the hand, elbow, knee, head, jawjust about anything. The one downside is it does require more force to activate than something like a jellybean switch.
For more information, contact Adaptivation Inc at

Voice C single switch single message communication device
ClearNote  Optelec  20 January 2006
This prototype will be part of the ClearView line of video magnifier line from Optelec. It is designed for laptop users who require a portable video magnification system. The ClearNote will plugs into a USB port on a laptop or a monitor with a standard SVGA plug. Software loaded on the computer allows you to view the magnified image picture in picture, or full screen. The ClearView magnifies from 3 to 46x, and be used for close up or distance viewing by manually moving a lens in front of the camera. The camera and arm are reversible on the base, so that it can be used free standing, or with the base tucked under a laptop.
Cost is expected to be $2695, not including the laptop.
Contact for more information.

Clear Note laptop based video magnifier, close up view
Clear Note laptop based video magnifier, distance view
PVO - Low Vision International (LVI)  19 January 2006
This portable video magnifier has a 4 inch screen with magnification which adjusts from 4x to 12x. The camera is located on the side with enough room underneath to write without using a writing stand or legs. It also comes with a cable to allow you to view the image on a TV screen.
The PVO is distributed in the United States by Independent Living Aids, and costs $795. For more information, visit or

PVO portable video magnifier with variable magnification from LVI
PVO portable magnifier, side view
Ablelink Technologies  20 January 2006
This company produces cognitive prosthetic software to help people who require cognitive support in vocational, educational, and independent living environments. Software can be loaded on different types of devices, including Dell Axim PDAs, desktop and tablet personal computers, Pocket PCs, or the iMate cell phone. Software is highly configurable with options such as a accessible phone application, discovery desktop, a schedule assistant, easy to use email and messaging software. Products cost between $800 and $1600 depending on your needs. The abiltity for a care giver to program in a schedule of reminders could make this a very power tool for making someone with a cognitive impairment more independent.
Visit for more information.

Ablelink cognitive prostetic personal data assistants
Switch Mount - AMDi  Advanced Multimedia Devices, Inc.
I saw this easy to use mounting system at the AMDi booth. Unfortunately, no one there really knew anything about it at the time. It is simple and easy to use. The base is covered with a soft loop fabric, and plastic ABS mounts with hook material can be positioned with different types of switches as needed.
For more information, contact AMDi at

AMDi velcro switch mounting board
i.d. mate II  En-Vision America  21 January 2006
This device is designed to be used by people who are blind identify objects with bar codes. The user scans a bar code with the scanner, and the device responds with TTS reading the product information, which could include product name, nutritional information, even how to prepare it if it's food. Specifically, it is used to identify things that are hard to identify objects that can't be identified easily, such as bottles, jars, and boxes. The bar code information is stored on a memory card, and can be updated periodically. The device comes with a year subscription of updates. The subscription updates are $50 per year after that. The user can also record their own voice identify products that aren't in the database, and they can create their own barcode with standard Avery labels and an printer. They can also create their barcode data on a computer, importing info from excel or a database, to create their own custom bar coding system (useful for someone working in a warehouse or store) The system costs $1599, and on going updated barcode information subscription is $50 per year.
Go to for more information.

I D Mate text to speech barcode reading device in carrying case
I D Mate barcode reading device for people who are visually impaired
Fusion -  Freedom Vision  21 January 2006
This is a really nice upgrade of the old style mouse type video magnifiers. The version I saw was pre production, and it is expect to be available for sale in February or March. This portable video magnifier has a 7 inch screen, is battery powered, and weighs about 3 pounds. The screen is angle adjustable, and has a variety of color modes, including color, black and white, and reverse. Magnification ranges from 6x to 18x. The camera is imbedded in the mouse, which can be used in the unit for reading, or taken out of the unit and used separately. If you wish to write, there are small legs on the mouse that will extend and allow you to fit a pen under the camera. It can also be pluged into a TV with an RCA cable to view the magnified image on a larger screen. This is (in my humble opinion) the first truly useful mouse camera video magnifier I have seen, in that it truly and entirely portable. The version I saw was not fully functional hardware and software wise, but I can't wait to see the production version of this device. It is a truly slick design with a case the resembles a portable DVD player, and it was the last cool thing I found at this years show.
Cost will be $1995. Contact for more information.

Portable mouse/LCD video magnifier with mouse outside case
Portable mouse/LCD video magnifier with mouse in case
Portable mouse/LCD video magnifier with case closed
The Following Devices were not at ATIA, I posted them before I went to the conference.