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Educational dream—or educator’s nightmare?
For all the #disruptors, evasiveness and anti-regulatory posturing to come out of TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference over the last 2 days, there’s also been a few damn cool products on show—and PhotoMath is one of them.
The result of two years of development of text recognition software by tech company MicroBlink, PhotoMath is a school slacker’s dream. Simply load the app on your phone, point the camera at a math equation, and voila—solved.
It’s not intended for cheating, of course. There’s an option to show working, taking you through how to solve the problem step-by-step, which could be invaluable as a learning tool. But it’s not hard to imagine the app being used for slightly more nefarious purposes too.
The app isn’t an end in itself for MicroBlink, however: PhotoMath—while entirely functional—is intended partly a demonstration of the underlying recognition technology, which MicroBlink hopes to licence out to other companies. TechCrunch reports that MicroBlink previously developed PhotoPay with the same technology—an automated system for bill-paying now licensed to 14 European banks.
PhotoMath was one of the four finalists for the “Disrupt cup” presented at the conference, eventually losing out on the $48 thousand prize fund to database server platform Crate.io. The app is currently available on Windows Phone and iOS, with an Android launch planned for early 2015.
Screengrab via MicroBLINK / Vimeo
Rob Price is a technology and politics reporter who served as the U.K.-based morning editor for the Daily Dot until 2014. He now works as the news editor for Business Insider, and his work has appeared in Vice, Slate, the Washington Post, and the Independent.