Color Binoculars augments reality to help the colorblind

Like most colorblind people, a colorblind Microsoft engineer wanted to be able to distinguish colors better and to get an idea of what the rest of the world saw.  To help him do that, he worked with another Microsoft software engineer to create a new app. Called Color Binoculars, the app is iOS only at this point so I haven't really given it a shot yet.  I'll have to dig out my cranky old iPad and see how it works on that so I can update this with my impressions.

Image from  Microsoft Blog

Image from Microsoft Blog

The app has selections for the most common types of colorblindness and enhances color differences to help colorblind users differentiate colors.  It's like a digital approach to what the EnChroma glasses are supposed to do.  

For now I wanted to put this out there and get more attention on it in case others might find it useful.  You can find out more about it on the Microsoft Blog.

Google releases Color Enhancer plugin for Chrome

According to Google it's a color filter that partially colorblind users can customize and use to improve color perception.  

At least for me, I'm not sure it's doing much, but I am also finding the calibration routine it wants you to go through is fiddly and unreliable for me.  Could my wide gamut displays be messing with it? I don't know, but I'm going to try it on another machine/screen tomorrow.

It may work for some though, and it's a nice idea.  There are similar programs out there designed to enhance color perception of images, and a browser plugin is a logical extension of the concept.  Accessibility options for programs to help colorblind users are not as common as they could be, and the web doesn't always design with the colorblind user in mind either.

Try it out for yourself, maybe it'll be helpful for you!

Color for the Colorblind

Valspar has teamed up with EnChroma to produce this short video.  It shows people supposedly seeing colors for the first time thanks to the EnChroma glasses.  EnChroma has a more technical breakdown of how their glasses supposedly work, although it's a notch filtering system that purports to help users differentiate colors by blocking wavelengths that the cone's photopigments overlap on. 

While the actual effectiveness of these glasses is not really proven, and I remain skeptical, there are claims that they have helped some deuteranomalous and protanomalous users.  Regardless, it would be fun to try them myself some day, videos like this certainly make me wonder what (if anything) I might be missing.  

I was recently asked by someone with a poor sense of smell and taste how horseradish tasted.  How do you answer that?  If he suddenly regained his taste I'm sure it would be much like if I could suddenly identify and see all colors, some things might make more sense and certain expressions that many take for granted would suddenly have meaning.  My color blindness is certainly not as bad as it gets so I imagine the effect would be even more profound for those who are more strongly affected.

For more on the project check out the Valspar Color For All site.