App Review: PhotoMath

Lazy AF? Or just a really nice concept? Whatever the case we put the App to do some daily and heavy work. Here are the results.

Do you remeber the times when you were just a Math’s slave? In elementary school the calculators where prohibited and just your fingers, pencial, eraser and a piece of paper were your allies aginst math. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating, the fact is that there was a moment when simple math problems involved the use of the brain for solving; now they only involve the use of your iPhone or Windows Phone.

PhotoMath from MicroBLINK on Vimeo.

Microblink is behind the App PhotoMath, a revolutionary and viral App that since it appeared has created controversy, in one hand is the people that expects a premium performance; solving complex problems and telling you in a simple way how to solve the. In the other hand is the user that has it that will never use it, because he will never have a chance. Meanwhile, both kind of users download it.

The magic of the App is in the OCR recognition, which Microblink is specciallized in. In fact you can find some of their related to OCR apps on the Play Store and the App Store. The OCR is basically the way a software takes a photo of text, then converts the photo into an array (it means, a rectangle with for example 800 rectangles width by 600 rentangles lenght) and finally checks the positions of the characters in the array. Then it checks in a database for similar shapes and once it finds a coincidence, it assumes it is the correct character. For that reason this process is simpler for standard text than for handwriting text.

The App clearly claims that it is designed to be used just with standard expressions, so there must not be complain here. For primary testing, we used the suggested operations by Microblink.

We scanned the text directly from the computer’s screen keeping a distance of aprox. 20 cms (8 inches)with normal pulse(not shaking hand) using an iPhone 5s and got the next results:

  1. 23/12 (2nd try, 2 seconds)
  2. -1.35714 (2nd try, less than a second)
  3. x=7/2 or 2x-7 (several tries, 5 seconds)
  4. Unable to focus on the expression. (several tries)
  5. 7/6x+1 or x=5/8 (really several tries)

The firts 3 results were almost correct and were delivered at a decent speed, but as we advanced the test became not as good. As you see, some times it was nearly imposible to get a correct answer, maybe because the sofware seemed unable to identify correctly the results, because the distance was not okay or because the expressions were really close one of each other to distinguish a single expression.

The fact is that for a student of professor, in a book you find even uglier situations; you won’t easily find an isolated expression or a simple one, if you are in college or high school you will face harder statments.

When we took the test even further and used advanced math and hand writing the app wasn’t able to give a result. And we get it, the primary concept is okay, but the real application is still away. Maybe with some updates the results won’t be a disaster and the reaction will be more accurate. Untill then we recommend you to download it just to impress and not for REAL work.

Rating: 3 out of 5


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