The iPhone App That Can Color Your Day Happy

Sheri Reed

colors rainbowHere I was having an pretty blah Tuesday. Just back from taking my sick (again) cat to the vet, working at my desk, a little hungry, a little grouchy from the heat even with the A/C on inside -- yes, it's 100 degrees here on this 28th day of September -- watching the minutes tick away before I need to go pick up both boys.

And then I stumbled upon on an article on NPR that filled my heart with joy and subsequently, via an iPhone app, made my afternoon more colorful.

The article? It was a quick bit about a man, a legally blind man, and how a simple $0.99 iPhone app opened up a whole rich and beautiful world to him that he had never known.

It started like this: "Last Wednesday, my life changed forever. I got an iPhone."

Austin Seraphin, who is legally blind and can only see "in blurs, and objects don't really have a color, just light sources" recently reviewed a new iPhone app called Color Identifier that uses the iPhone's camera to detect colors and then speaks the color aloud. For Austin, everything changed in an instant.

On his blog Behind the Curtain, Austin writes:

"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 cues 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."

I'm not legally blind, but still I wondered, could this Color Identifier app do something to change my observations of the day? Could it turn an otherwise *meh* Tuesday into something more? I downloaded it to find out.

In just a few clicks, suddenly my yellow notepad full of work scribbles became Lime Dash and the boring gray sundress I was wearing became a lovely River Bed. The top of my desk, Don Juan. Oh my. It does get a whole lot of action. The sky out the window, out there in the 100-degree heat, Cornflower Blue. Wow. That sky really was Cornflower Blue. Gorgeously Cornflower Blue, and just think, I almost missed it.

I went further. My sick black cat was suddenly Mine Shaft. My tired brown eyes Coffee Bean. The big hot white ball of sunshine outside Ceramic but its beams Romance. Hmmm. This was working for me. Everything looked different all the sudden.

Later, in the car after picking up my super-cranky 7-year-old from afterschool care, I checked and he was Astronaut. Yes, blasting off into space, I see ... and I was here to watch him soar. And still there when he came back down to Earth. When we picked up my 3-year-old from daycare and he promptly used his lunchbox to bop his brother in the nose, I sighed, aimed the iPhone and realized he was glowing in Treehouse. Treehouse. Yes, that place where we can all hide away and feel safe. Safe enough to bop each other, even if it's not without consequence, and cry all the way home. Treehouse, where we can finally act how we really feel inside.

Once finally home, tired, dragging, and the crying mostly done, we made our way from the car to the house. In my arms, no longer baby boys but their artwork and big boy sweatshirts and lunch boxes, now empty of whole sandwiches. My 7-year-old hopped all the way to the door, his legs long and getting strong. My 3-year-old picked up a sawtooth acorn off the driveway. He said he would take it for share day. The days are passing us by so fast these days. Floating away from me the way the brown crackling leaves will once fall finally makes it start.

I put my key in the lock and pushed open the door and the boys pushed past me inside. I juggled all the stuff in my arms, aimed the iPhone into the front door, and closed my eyes to listen. "Envy," the app said, and I opened my eyes and for a moment, I could see.


Image via Evil Erin/Flickr

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