People who have difficulty differentiating color can now get a better picture of how images look on their smartphones through a free app available on iPhone.
The app, called "Iro no Megane" (Chromatic Glass), has been downloaded 12,000 times since it became available in August 2010.
An estimated 3 million Japanese have varying difficulties with differentiating colors.
The app is the brainchild of Kazunori Asada, former president of an information technology company in Sapporo who is a medical doctor.
Asada, 50, hit upon the idea of developing the software after learning that a colleague was color blind.
The app changes colors that people have trouble deciphering--typically red and green--to those that are easier to distinguish by processing brightness and shade.
A good test in using the app is to point the camera of the iPhone at a traffic signal, where three colors stop and start in order.
From a medical standpoint, the software offers the additional benefit of allowing people who have color weakness to notice if they have blood in their stools.
Asada set out to develop the software in February in 2010. But he initially had to struggle as it took a second or two to convert each image, which limited the app's usability.
His new software is dramatically improved. After Asada released the app, he was inundated with grateful responses from users.
"I could see the beauty of colored leaves for the first time," said one user.
"I was touched because I used to have inferiority complex due to my condition," said another person.
Asada also developed an app, called Chromatic Vision Simulator, which shows how color blind people see the world.
He later developed an app that allows people with presbyopia and cataracts to read small letters more clearly.
As a next project, he has set his sights on an app that assists people who have poor hearing.
"I hope that with the new app that my father, who loves classical music, will be able to enjoy a concert without relying on his hearing aid," Asada said.
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