PhotoMath App Can Read and Instantly Solve Math Problems From a Picture

PhotoMath App Can Read and Instantly Solve Math Problems From a Picture

by Chris Thomas on 23 October 2014 · 6320 views

1 medium PhotoMath App Can Read and Instantly Solve Math Problems From a PictureWhen you want to cheat on a math test or skip the mental math involved in solving a problem the old-fashioned way, what's the first tool you reach for? Most likely it's the little history-changing device we know as the “digital calculator.”

Indeed, calculators have solved many of the world's problems, but they have one major shortcoming – you still have to manually input the math into the calculator to arrive at a solution. That doesn't sound like much of a problem on the surface, but just wait until you start inputting advanced algebra problems and linear equations the size of your thumb – needless to say it can become a bit complicated and time-consuming.

It's 2014, surely there must be way around this little problem? That was the train of thought the team at Microblink boarded on their way to arriving at what appears to be one of the most useful apps of all time – PhotoMath, the app that lets you take a picture of a math problem and solve it instantly, finally bringing the calculator to its full potential.

What Kind of Math Problems Can PhotoMath Solve?

Right now PhotoMath supports arithmetic expressions (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, etc.), simple linear equations, decimals and fractions, and powers and roots. That pretty much covers most (if not all) of the math problems you'll ever encounter in life. The app is still in its early stages, so there are times when it can't recognize or solve recognize certain symbols or problems, but we imagine it will only become more efficient over time.  

Of course, in order to solve the problem PhotoMath needs the numbers and symbols in the picture to be legible in order to extract the data and calculate a solution, but that shouldn't become a problem too often. Keep in mind that at the moment that app does not support handwritten math problems, so if the problem is not clearly printed you'll have to go back to the trusty calculator. 

Obviously, most people won't be using the app to solve basic equations that can be quickly typed into a calculator, but for linear equations and other complex problems, PhotoMath provides the fastest way to input and solve the problem within seconds.

A New Way to Cheat or a Convenient Educational Tool?

While some pessimistic critics feel that this app simply gives people a way to cheat on tests and discourages kids from learning math, the app's developer contends that it actually helps educate the user by visually illustrating how the problem is solved.

As far as students using the app to cheat - although we should assume that most teachers won't knowingly allow their students to take a picture of their test papers in class, there's nothing stopping a student from cheating on their homework with the app. That's nothing new though; calculators, cheat sheets and whole manor of other cheating techniques have existed long before PhotoMath, so from an objective standpoint it appears that the app does much more good than harm.

Right now PhotoMath is only available for iOS and Windows Phone, but an Android version is expected to arrive by 2015.

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