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Microsoft Releases An App That Helps Correct Colorblindness

Color Binoculars uses an iPhone camera to change the contrast in images to make them easier to see.

An estimated 8% of the population suffers from some kind of colorblindness. Some high-tech solutions exists, such as these color-correcting glasses that cost hundreds of dollars. But two Microsoft engineers set out to create a more accessible way to help the colorblind.


During a Microsoft hackathon, the software engineers Tom Overton and Tingting Zhu came up with Color Binoculars, an iPhone app released by Microsoft Garage that uses the phone’s camera to apply a filter. The filter increases contrast between two hard-to-distinguish colors or adjusts an image so that colors are easier to tell apart, such as adjusting reds to pinks for those with red-green colorblindness. But you don’t have to take a picture or video to see the filter–the app applies filters to the camera’s live preview–and the app adapts to three kinds of colorblindness.

Overton, who is colorblind himself and struggles with red and green in particular, says that the app helps him figure out when food is done based on its changing colors. It would also help with picking out matching clothes, choosing home decor, and even just enjoying fall colors.

The project fits right into Microsoft’s renewed emphasis on accessibility in design. Practicing inclusivity by designing products that benefit everyone, including people with disabilities, has become an integral part of the company’s ethos and has informed the design of products like Cortana, Skype Translator, and the learning tools for OneNote.

[All Images: via Color Binoculars]

About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Follow her on Twitter @kschwabable.