Math teachers are not going to be happy with a new app called PhotoMath. The app solves equations using the camera function on a smartphone. Essentially, you just point the camera at an equation and the app computes, and spits out an answer. This may seem like a terrible idea because students won’t learn how to do basic math, but the app does also show the steps involved for those interested in expanding their knowledge base.
“It makes math easy and simple by educating users how to solve math problems,” according to app creator Microblink. While many students will probably use the app to cheat on their homework, phones aren’t allowed in most classes, therefore requiring students to still learn math (which is a good thing for society). According to pcmag.com, “the app supports arithmetic expressions (plus sign, division, etc.), fractions and decimals, powers and roots, and simple linear equations.”
PhotoMath does have issues computing more complex problems and sometimes does not read symbols or numbers correctly, but overall it is an interesting use of the camera function on phones. Additionally, it only reads equations from a textbook and will not pick up handwritten equations or scribbles. On the other hand, PTC Mathcad requires you to type in your equations, but once you have done that, it will solve any problem regardless of complexity! Surely, there will be more complex apps and programs designed to automatically complete equations in the near future.
Microblink has also clarified that the app is not designed as a learning tool. “We are not an educational company; we are promoting our machine vision technology with PhotoMath,” MicroBlink co-founder and CEO Damir Sabol told TechCrunch. Microblink mainly focuses on real-time text recognition, barcode, and ID scanning for their applications. This technology is extremely popular right now, and PhotoMath is a fascinating example of where Microblink and other developers are headed.
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