New algebra solving app could make teachers’ lives hell

22 Oct 2014

The PhotoMath app at work

A new app called PhotoMath allows a mobile phone user to instantly solve algebraic equations just by pointing his or her phone’s camera at the equation.

Created by Microblink, the app will no doubt lead to major headaches for teachers, as any student with a smartphone, on iOS and Windows Phone, will be able to solve age-old problems with a very 21st-century solution.

The app even gives a step-by-step guide as to how it reached the answer to an equation, which will be an added burden for teachers looking to understand how students arrived at their answers.

The Croatian company behind the app has been one of the better companies for using the latest generation of phones’ cameras to perform functional tasks, such as text recognition and even digitising ID scanners and mobile payments.

PhotoPay, Microblink’s mobile payments system, has been licensed by 14 banks across Europe as a result of what they saw as a safe and secure SDK within its apps.

However, the company’s CEO, Damir Sobol, stressed recently the company is not developing into an educational company that uses cameras, but rather as a vision communications company.

“We are not an educational company, we are promoting our machine vision technology with PhotoMath,” Sobol said.

There can be some reassurance for educators, however, as so far the app only works with numbers, fractions and algebra and must be in a registered font which rules out handwritten advanced mathematics, at least for the moment.

The app is free to download in its current build on iOS and Windows Phone, with an Android build expected in early 2015.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic