Healthy Living

New app helps people who are colorblind

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two-hundred million people worldwide have some form of colorblindness. Whether you're a pilot on a color-coded taxiway, an electrician coding wires or simply matching clothes, color perception is important to our everyday lives.

Now for just $2.99, a new app may help colorblind people see what they've been missing.

Adam Baldwin's art is loaded with creativity, but there's one thing missing from his sketches: color.

"My favorite colors? I like pencil," said Baldwin.

Born colorblind, his condition has worsened overtime.

"Reds and greens are starting to mix together on me now, and I really don't understand how that's possible," he said.

"Patients can't see certain wavelengths of color usually because of a defect in the cones in the retina," said Dr. Richard Cohn, an ophthalmologist at Cohn Eye Center in Florida.

It's something computer security researcher Dan Kaminsky understands well. That, and a concept called "augmented reality."

"The idea behind augmented reality is you can take images and scenes that you would normally see and then overlay extra data," said Kaminsky.

Kaminsky's app, the DanKam, combines a smartphone's camera with adjustable filters. They take subtler shades of red, green and blue and sharpen them, making them more visible. Each person can tweak the settings to fit his or her deficiency.

"You have to take reds and make them a little bit pinker and greens and make them a little bit bluer," Kaminsky said.

For Baldwin, it sounded too good to be true.

"Never believe in what I hear and only half of what I see," Baldwin said.

But when he put the DanKam to the test, he said, "I'm like a freakin kid. This is freakin awesome."

Shades he couldn't spot before suddenly became clearer.

"I might actually put more colors in my drawings," Baldwin said.

Kaminsky originally created the DanKam for a colorblind friend who couldn't see a green character in "Star Trek."

The DanKam app is compatible with the iPhone and the Android. Other providers like Blackberry, Microsoft and Nokia plan to release versions soon.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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android, iPhone, app, technology, healthy living, denise dador
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