In most cases of colorblindness, people can actually see colors, but they have difficulty telling some of them apart. While there are corrective glasses that help enhance contrast, they cost several hundred dollars. That's why two Microsoft software engineers developed Color Binoculars, a free iOS app that does much the same job.

The program was originally created by Tom Overton (who is colorblind himself) and Tingting Zhu, as part of a company-wide hackathon that took place last year. They took their prototype app to Microsoft Garage, which helps employees bring apps to the market. As a result, it's now available on the App Store.

Color Binoculars can be set to compensate for three different types of colorblindness. In all cases, it uses digital filters to change problematic color combinations that are present in the camera's live preview. The altered image is displayed to the user on the screen, in real time.

"Since I have difficulty distinguishing between red and green, our app makes reds brighter and greens darker so that the difference is more obvious," explains Overton. "It replaces difficult color combinations, like red and green, with more easily distinguishable combinations, like pink and green."

There's presently no word on an Android version. In the meantime, users of that system might want to check out the existing DanKam app, although it costs US$3.99.

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