Photo of an E-Bot pro focused on an open book with text displayed on an iPad which is on a stand.
Guide

How I use the HIMS e-Bot Pro in College

A practical classroom review of the E-Bot Pro, a CCTV that displays directly on your iPad that is an approved tool for standardized testing!

After my first year of receiving Vocational Rehabilitation services through the Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI), I received an assistive technology assessment to learn more about technology that I could use in my college classes. One of the devices that was recommended to me is the E-Bot Pro, which was purchased by DBVI and given to me at no cost so that I could reach my goals for college success. The E-Bot Pro has been an awesome tool for my education that I wish I had access to in high school, and today’s post is all about how I use the HIMS E-Bot Pro in college.

Basic overview of E-Bot Pro

The E-Bot Pro is a video magnifier/mounted CCTV for low vision that consists of a white camera, adjustable arm, and base that are controlled by a joystick or remote control. Unlike traditional video magnifiers that have a built-in screen, the E-Bot Pro connects to a computer, TV, or tablet to display information, and has several features for adjusting display colors, scanning text, and adjusting the viewing angle.

The E-Bot Pro was discontinued by HIMS around 2018. However, there are a few different places that a user might be able to source an E-Bot Pro for classroom use, including:

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How to set up the E-Bot Pro

The E-Bot Pro requires about 12 inches of desk space, though I prefer to place it on either a larger table or have two desks close together in the college classroom. There are two options for connecting devices to the E-Bot Pro:

To use the E-Bot Pro with mainstream technology such as an iPad, users will have to download the E-Bot Pro application online from the HIMS website or from their device’s app store. I exclusively use my E-Bot Pro with the iPad application on my personal iPad.

As of 2020, the HIMS E-Bot Viewer app is no longer on the Google Play Store.

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Display settings for E-Bot Pro

Users can customize the display for the E-Bot Pro using the remote or with their application in several ways, including:

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Using the E-Bot pro with information at a distance

The E-Bot Pro camera can rotate 270 degrees, which makes it helpful for magnifying information on a whiteboard or projector in class. When I was taking a science class in a lecture hall, I discovered that I still had trouble reading the board even from the front row, so I connected the E-Bot Pro to enlarge my professor’s handwritten notes on my screen. To position the camera, I use either the device remote, or hand gestures on the iPad like pinch-to-zoom, swiping to position the camera, and similar gestures. The device can be controlled entirely with either the remote or with the app.

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Using the E-Bot Pro for up-close reading

If my professor hands me a paper quiz in small print or if I have to read through handwritten notes, I can use the E-Bot Pro to magnify text up to 50x, though I noticed I had trouble reading notes that are written with mechanical pencil or very fine print (6 pt font or smaller). Images can also be enlarged with the E-Bot Pro, and I was impressed with the image clarity compared to other video magnifiers I had tried, which often cast a dark or shadowy light over images.

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E-Bot Pro for testing and exams

I have an approved Disability Services file at my college for using assistive technology in the classroom and in the Disability Services testing center. Instead of going to the testing center, some of my professors allowed me to use my E-Bot Pro for exams taken in the classroom, enabling Guided Access on my iPad to ensure I did not use any external applications. Since the E-Bot Pro cannot access the internet and doesn’t have any other wireless connection options, my professors were fine with me using this on exams, and it was also permitted in the testing center.

The year after I graduated from high school, the E-Bot Pro was mentioned as an approved accommodation for Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) standardized testing, and would also be approved for other standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT.

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Transporting and charging the E-Bot Pro

The E-Bot Pro weighs around seven pounds, and my device came with a green carrying case that could be carried on the shoulders or with another strap. Since I have trouble carrying heavy items on my shoulders, I would place the carrying case in a rolling backpack and use that to transport the magnifier to my classes. If my classes were particularly far away, I would take the campus shuttle or ask a friend to drive me to class.

As for battery life, the E-Bot Pro lasts about four hours on a full battery charge, but can also be used while plugged into an outlet. Since I don’t typically use the E-Bot Pro in back-to-back classes, I haven’t run into any issues with the battery life as long as I charge my device before or after class. HIMS continues to sell E-Bot Pro replacement batteries even though the device was discontinued.

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How I talk to my professors about the E-Bot Pro

At the beginning of the semester, I meet with my professors to go over my Disability Services file and how I will use the accommodations listed for their particular class. For example, I told my geology professor at the start of the semester that I use the E-Bot Pro on my desk for magnifying information on the board as well as samples of rocks or minerals for labs, and scheduled some time for them to check out the device and see how it is used. Some of my professors didn’t ask any further questions and let me use the device without hesitation, while others appreciated having the opportunity to check out the device for themselves and see how I was using it. I never had a professor restrict or ban the use of the E-Bot Pro in the classroom.

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Additional resources for the E-Bot Pro

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com

Updated July 2023; original post published December 2016

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