Algebra class just got easier for high school math students with smartphones (ok, that last part is redundant). PhotoMath is an app that uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to decipher a polynomial algebraic equation and perform operations on it - like solving for unknowns. microblink's "Vision" app provides the OCR (blinkOCR) part of the functionality since it already knows how to take a picture of text and convert it to ASCII type characters based on its 'text recognition, barcode, and ID scanning' algorithms. PhotoMath then takes the process a step farther by figuring out what needs to be done with an equation and and then doing it. But wait, there's more ... not only does PhotoMath provide the solution to the problem, but it also shows you how it arrives at the solution every step of the way.
"Now, how much would you pay?," as the old Ronco "Chop-o-Matic" TV commercials salesman (Ron Popeil) used to say. Answer: You pay nothing because it is FREE, at least for now. Both iPhone and Windows phone versions of PhotoMath are available as of this writing, and an Android version must be in the works based on the grayed-out button on the page.
Only first-order, single variable polynomials can be analyzed at this time, but development is underway for handling higher order equations, trigonometry, and calculus. So, it looks like PhotoMath, while it definitely has a 'cool' factor, will only really be of use through maybe the third week of Algebra I class. After that, you're back to MathCAD, Maple, or MATLAB software on your notebook computer to do the really hard equation solving for you.
Posted October 23, 2014