Today, Color Identifier (also known as Color ID, as it appears on the iPhone home screen) picked up a lot of attention.
I think it started with a blind person’s excellent blog post about his experience with an iPhone. I found it to be very touching– I highly recommend reading it. Here’s the relevant part:
The other night, however, a very amazing thing happened. I downloaded an app called Color ID. It uses the iPhone’s camera, and speaks names of colors. It must use a table, because each color has an identifier made up of 6 hexadecimal digits. This puts the total at 16777216 colors, and I believe it. Some of them have very surreal names, such as Atomic Orange, Cosmic, Hippie Green, Opium, and Black-White. These names in combination with what feels like a rise in serotonin levels makes for a very psychedelic experience.
I have never experienced this before in my life. I can see some light and color, but just in blurs, and objects don’t really have a color, just light sources. When I first tried it at three o’clock in the morning, I couldn’t figure out why it just reported black. After realizing that the screen curtain also disables the camera, I turned it off, but it still have very dark colors. Then I remembered that you actually need light to see, and it probably couldn’t see much at night. I thought about light sources, and my interview I did for Get Lamp. First, I saw one of my beautiful salt lamps in its various shades of orange, another with its pink and rose colors, and the third kind in glowing pink and red.. I felt stunned.
The next day, I went outside. I looked at the sky. I heard colors such as “Horizon,” “Outer Space,” and many shades of blue and gray. I used color queues to find my pumpkin plants, by looking for the green among the brown and stone. I spent ten minutes looking at my pumpkin plants, with their leaves of green and lemon-ginger. I then roamed my yard, and saw a blue flower. I then found the brown shed, and returned to the gray house. My mind felt blown. I watched the sun set, listening to the colors change as the sky darkened. The next night, I had a conversation with Mom about how the sky looked bluer tonight. Since I can see some light and color, I think hearing the color names can help nudge my perception, and enhance my visual experience. Amazing!
I love my iPhone. It changed my universe as soon as it entered it.
- Austin Seraphin
I’m honored and humbled to have contributed this great experience.
He writes: “Last Wednesday, my life changed forever. I got an iPhone. I consider it the greatest thing to happen to the blind for a very long time, possibly ever.” Of course, there are many things about the iPhone that makes it such a boon for the blind. Color Identifier is just one of them, and for that, I’m very glad.
The article was on Hacker News. Carlos McEvilly pointed it out to me. (Thanks, Carlos!)
In addition, it has been tweeted and retweeted hundreds of times. Here’s a small selection:
firsthand account of an iphone “I watched the sun set, listening to the colors change as the sky darkened” http://bit.ly/9X2a2u
RT @vaughanbell: Amazing last paragraphs of iPhone review by blind user on how it names color and affects perception. http://is.gd/fiNmz
Really .liking how Color Identifier updates info in real-time as you walk around.
Ricky also submitted Color Identifier to AppleVis. I’m glad VoiceOver can read the hex value. I didn’t do anything special to make this work– I didn’t test with VoiceOver prior to releasing the app– so it looks like Apple has done a good job making the standard UI controls accessible
“Best App Ever” -NPR
“How wonderful! This could also help me avoid arguments with my wife about what color something is. I have such a restricted color vocabulary.” -Brumley Gap
“This is great news. I need to tell my son about this since he is color blind.” -Anonymous
I noticed that downloads of Color Identifier experienced a sharp uptick today. If I remember to do it, I will later post graphs to show the increase.
What do you think of the attention Color Identifier is getting? Have you tried the app? What suggestions do you have? (Due to all the new attention, I’m definitely going to update the app soon!)