Color Binoculars, a new Microsoft app for iOS, promises a whole new world for people with color blindness. The app seeks to translate images for anyone living with the three main forms of color blindness: the two that are known collectively as red-green color blindness, and blue-yellow color blindness.
The program works by making it easier to distinguish between colors. For example, Color Binoculars assists those with red-green color blindness by making greens darker and reds lighter. The reds, in effect, become more pink. While it may not perfectly simulate the vision of a non-color blind person, it certainly allows color blind users to notice a difference where they might otherwise see no difference at all.
Color Binoculars is hardly the first app on the market catering to color blind people. However, it has a somewhat unique distinction of being developed, in part, by a person who lives with red-green color blindness. Tom Overton and Tingting Zhu started the project at Hackathon in 2015. It then became part of Microsoft’s Garage program, where Overton was more than just a developer; he was the app’s primary tester. Overton also provides the apps most effective endorsement, proclaiming that “when I’m cooking and I need to brown meat, I can bust it out so I can tell when it’s not pink anymore!”
This speaks to the core philosophy behind Color Binoculars. Although the app uses smartphone cameras to provide users with a new vision of the world, it is not intended as a photo app. Instead, Color Binoculars seeks to be exactly that: binoculars. It is a tool for seeing the world more clearly.
Color Binoculars is currently available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 10 and later.