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Colour Binoculars from Microsoft Garage will help the colour-blind look at the world like everyone else

by Vishal Laul

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The Microsoft Garage Lab exists to help turn random projects by Microsoft employees into a product; this helps the employees by letting them be creative at their job while giving Microsoft opportunities to build something extraordinary.

The latest to come out of Microsoft Garage is Colour Binoculars – an app that will give the colour-blind an opportunity to experience the world as everybody else does; for being average, can often be a privilege.

“Anything with red or green messes me up. It’s not so terrible, but it does affect you. For instance, fall leaves don’t look any different for me than other leaves. They look like they always do. It takes a lot of colour out of my life – metaphorically, that is,” says Tom Overton, a Software Engineer at Microsoft, who will be joining Tableau Software in January.

Overton develops experiences for Cortana at Microsoft – it’s not a job that would have anything to do with an app like this, but he suffers from colour-blindness; his genius wasn’t being utilized.

Tom collaborated with Tingting Zhu – a colleague at Microsoft, who is also a Software Engineer working for Azure; together, the two created Colour Blindness – available for iOS, exclusively, for now, and released via Microsoft Garage.

The app works like a camera – except, instead of taking photos or videos, it only acts as a translator; the app has three modes – Red/Green, Green/Red, Blue/Yellow – the three modes are the different kinds of colour-blindness that people suffer with.

It’s not the first time Tingting Zhu and Tom Overton have shown this app to the world – it was first demoed in 2015’s Microsoft Hackathon event for Microsoft employees.

You can read more about Tom’s inspiration and his experience so far using the app on Microsoft’s official blog.

The app, for now, is only available for iOS – here’s the link to the App Store. Hopefully, encouraged by its success, Overton and Zhu would consider bringing the app to more platforms; perhaps Microsoft could put a few more resources at it, to help them out.

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