Did you know that colorblindness affects “approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world.” For scale, that would mean “worldwide, there are approximately 300 million people with color blindness, almost the same number of people as the entire population of the USA!”
While there is no known cure, there are glasses and contacts that can help in some cases. That is until the Color Pal App was created. Harvey Mudd student, Vincent Fiorentini, was diagnosed with red/green colorblindness or Deutan color vision blindness at age seven. This means red and green are problem colors for him. This also includes some grays, purples, and greenish blues.
Here is what red/green colorblindness looks like:
Here is how the app picks up on color correctness.
Fiorentini released the app in August 2015 and it has been picking up speed on Android and iOS users.
“Accessibility was really important to me,” he says. “I figured I could hone in on my own experience as a colorblind person to figure out what features I’d need to hopefully help other colorblind people.”
How does it work?
“There are certain shades that colorblind people can distinguish just fine—so the trick is to translate the full spectrum to a shorter spectrum. I came up with some simple mapping where you take the full range of colors and squish it down to half of the range of colors. The basic idea of the shift is taking all the colors in the input image and then, for any one of those colors, replacing it with a different color half as far along the spectrum,
Ultimately, the app can operate in three different modes. The first is the color inspector. This feature gives each user descriptive information about a particular color. This includes things like hue and saturation.
Second, it will ‘correct’ colorblindness, on the device that is. The user can utilize the filter and shift colors of the object to make them more accurate.
Lastly, if you are a user who does not live with colorblindness, you will be able to experience what it’s like. Fiorentini dubbed this “empathy mode.”
The Color Blind Pal app is available at no cost on both Android and iOS and users are loving it.
“Whoever invented this app…you are a life saver and a genius! Thank you soooooo much for this!!!!!! I stopped wearing color a long time ago and stick to only black cause it’s the one color I know for sure I don’t mess up. Now that I have a son, trying to dress him on my own has been a nightmare. In between shades are sooo hard for me to see and identify, half his clothes I’m not even sure what they are so trying to match things are quite difficult. With this app it has just helped me soooo much. I open it all throughout the day for various reasons. A million times thanks to the app creator! Poor lighting, causes for sometimes false reads, but in regular lighting, it seems to always get the colors right for me! Life saver!!”
“Besides the phone and texting apps, this is the only app I use. It is how I go about my life unimpeded by my disability. Every single day I use this app to help me in my job. This app also enables me to wear clothes other than jeans and a gray t-shirt without mismatching. All while growing up my parents thought I just had terrible taste! It wasn’t until Jr. High that they, and myself, realized I was colorblind! I also use this app when shopping for groceries to help pick out what fruits and vegetables are ripe.”
Quite a revolutionary product!