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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Hi-tech reading aid comes to UK
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News Online disability affairs reporter

Photo of the myReader device
It looks like a CCTV but manipulates text differently
A reading device that lets partially-sighted people read more quickly and for longer periods of time has been launched by a New Zealand company.

MyReader by Pulse Data looks similar to conventional CCTVs used by visually-impaired people to magnify text.

But whereas CCTVs use an "x-y table" to move a book or magazine under a camera, myReader captures an entire page and then displays it in a variety of ways.

The result is a totally transformed reading experience, says Pulse Data.

Text can be scrolled upwards, like a TV presenter's autocue, or it can be scrolled across the screen or simply displayed one word at a time.

No sickness

"No physical movement is required, no feeling of sickness as text whizzes past on the screen, no line is missed and no line is read twice," said Alan Davis, Pulse Data's UK sales manager.

Photo of the myReader device folded away

"You literally can sit down and read - not for minutes as you can with CCTV - but for hours at a time."

Pulse Data has been showing its new reading device at Sight Village, an exhibition of technology for blind and partially-sighted people, organised by Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham.

The device has a built-in 15in LCD screen which will display text at up to 45 times magnification.

Users can choose from a range of 56 background and foreground colours.

The myReader was developed with New Zealand's Human Interface Technology laboratory, which advised Pulse Data on how to make the device as user-friendly as possible.

It is operated using a wired remote control which allows the user to scroll manually or at a speed of their choice.

First time readers

Weighing 10kg, the myReader is can easily be folded away and placed under a desk or carried between locations.

The device also allows sharing of the LCD screen with a PC and can also operate in split screen mode.

MyReader will be available in the UK from September and will retail for 3,300. It might seem like a high price tag, but it is comparable to CCTV systems already in use.

Grants are available to help with the cost of such devices through programmes like Access To Work.

Mr Davis says the company has had a number of people expressing interest in using the product, including a woman with a four-year-old child to whom she intends to read stories for the first time.

Sight Village is at the Clarendon Suites in Birmingham until Thursday night.

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