Microsoft launches colourblind app for iOS

Microsoft launches colourblind app

A Microsoft Garage Project has just finished developing the Color Binoculars app for the colourblind, and it is now available on Apple iOS and can be downloaded through iTunes. 

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Color Binoculars allows colourblind people to better see the world around them and is compatible with iOS 9.0 or later on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.


4.5% of the UK’s population is colourblind (2.7 million people) or suffer from Colour Visions Deficiency (CVD).

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This largely hereditary (genetic) condition is linked to a gene on the X chromosome, which means that there are more male sufferers than female. 

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In the UK this means that 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women suffer from colourblindness.

Color Binoculars

Colourblind Microsoft software engineer, Tom Overton, tells of his inspiration for developing the Colour Binoculars app. He explains that “Anything with red or green messes me up. For instance, autumn leaves don’t look any different for me than other leaves.”

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If you are colourblind then it is difficult to tell light wavelengths apart and the app works to distinguish colour combinations that would normally be difficult to tell apart. The iPhone app does this by brightening reds and darkening greens, so that the difference is more pronounced.

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In addition to this, tricky colour combinations are replaced. Red and green colour combinations, for example, can be changed to pink and green, which are easier to tell apart.

The app does not save images or videos but instead lets you use the iPhone’s camera to translate images, much in the way that Google Translate converts foreign language text into English.

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Microsoft Color Binoculars has many practical applications such as choosing matching clothes to picking out flowers or even telling the difference between coloured onscreen alerts. Expensive special lenses, for distinguishing colours apart, can be purchased by the colourblind but this app offers a free alternative.

Color Binoculars

Color Binoculars adapts to three kinds of colourblindness; red/green, green/red, blue/yellow and these can be toggled on and off.

Microsoft Garage

Microsoft Garage is the place where Microsoft teams from around the world join together, to get experimental apps and projects out to the public. 

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Recent apps includes Arrow Launcher, DealWatcher, Flower Recognition, Hub Keyboard, Kaizala, News Pro 3.0, Sprightly, Trip Tracker and Video Breakdown.

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Written by: Michael Brown