Video magnifiers help people with low vision more clearly see images and text on a computer or TV screen.
Despite computing technology being around for nearly a century, video magnifiers were not invented until the mid-1970s by a Dutch optician named Mr. Tieman. He built a single hardware tool for a customer who could no longer read screens solely with their glasses, and the invention caught on.
Modern versions of video magnifiers are hardware-based systems with a camera to record the screen you want to magnify. The recording is then automatically magnified onto a different screen, which the individual then uses to see the screen contents. This can either be a desktop piece of hardware or, for convenience purposes, a smaller handheld version that is more mobile.
The main difference between a video magnifier and other types of screen magnification devices is that a video magnifier, as the name suggests, uses a video camera to record the screen and magnify it while other screen magnifiers act as large magnifying glasses, enlarging the original screen itself. The video method typically produces a higher-quality output than simply magnifying a screen as-is, which can skew based on screen resolution or magnifier placement.
There are multiple video magnifier vendors on the market with no clear leader. Popular makers including DaVinci, ClearView, Merlin, Topaz, and Onyx. Prices vary depending on what users need, with desktop video magnifiers ranging in the $2,000 to $5,000 range while handheld devices ranging from $500 to $1,500 on average.