Electronics and Software
Engineering Innovation

The BEAM XVI Magnification Software


The BEAM XVI magnification application is responsible for magnifying the screens display and providing panning and other tools to assist the visually impaired user. The software can be driven from a GUI interface or, more commonly, though hot keys from the keyboard. The features supported include the following.


The whole of the screens display can be magnified up to 8 times. This is done in hardware for fast and smooth response.


Once the display has been magnified the user can pan the visible portion by means of the mouse or keyboard. The system uses hardware to perform the pan for a fast responsive feel. Moving the mouse to the edge of the screen automatically causes a pan of the display.

Automatic Pan

The system can automatically pan the display to the current centre of attention. For example, the screen can be panned to display the current text entry box as the centre of attention is moved by pressing the TAB to next object function. Various options are provided to track most screen operations including, text cursors, Motif window focus, text display, drawing commands and screen reader system.

Magnifying Glass

This feature provides the user with a magnified view of the area around the mouse cursor and moves with the mouse cursor in real-time. The view, which can be magnified up to 8 times on top of the screen magnification, is displayed in an on screen window. The magnification glasses window can be set to any size and any position on the screen. Hot keys enable the activation of the feature and control the level of zoom.

Mouse Cursor Options

In order to assist with the visibility of the mouse cursor, the system provides the ability to increase the size of the displayed cursor and change its colour. The cursors size can be changed in relation to the current screen magnification level, so that the cursor size is roughly the same independent of screen magnification level. Both the foreground and background colours of the displayed cursor can be changed. Also provided is a "cursor locater". This feature, driven by a hot key, flashes the cursor on the display to aid location.

Screen Background

The system provides the ability to change the colour and pattern of the screen background. This can aid the visibility of the on screen windows.

Application Colours

The software provides the ability to change any on screen colour, for any application. This can be used to great effect with some forms of colour based visual impairment.

Linkage with Screen Reader Software

The software has been designed and works with the BEAM screen reader software. The magnification software can be made to track the screen readers centre of attention making it easy to use magnification with speech and/or braille.