New math app solves equations with a camera

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While smartphone use is usually cracked down on in school, math teachers now have a new problem aside from texting and Facebook. An app can solve math problems with a smartphone camera.

Engadget reports on a new app, PhotoMath, which is a simple but powerful tool that can solve an equation when a user takes a photo of the problem. The app, which is now available for iOS and Windows Phone (an Android release should happen in 2015), not only gives the answer to the problem but shows how to solve it.

 At this time of writing, the PhotoMath site says that the app can deal solve arithmetic expressions, powers and roots, fractions and decimals and simple linear equations, with plans to expand its problem-solving arsenal continually. Those who are looking to solve a trigonometric identity will have to wait a while.

The app is meant to speed up the homework process by eliminating the constant flipping back and forth through a textbook to double-check answers. However, there is definite concern that students might use it for every problem and not end up learning anything. Of course, students could also use it to cheat on tests when the teacher isn’t looking.

Yahoo went hands-on with the app, announced at TechCrunch Disrupt in Europe, and found that the app performed more or less as advertised — it couldn’t solve every problem put in front of it, but most were no problem.

MicroBlink, the company behind the app, emphasizes that PhotoMath isn’t meant to be a learning tool so much as a demonstration of its “vision technology.”

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Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas is a staff editor at Digital Journal Inc. He is a graduate from Ryerson University's School of Journalism in Toronto. He also founded Grayowl Point, a Canadian music blog that's been online since 2009.

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