Low Vision News

For low vision specialists and those who consult them

iPhone magnifier app

My Apple iPhone is one of my favourite gadgets, and I was interested to see that there is now a magnifier app known as ‘iCanSee’ available through iTunes for 59p (or 99¢).

It has a zoom function which claims to magnify up to 4x, although when I tested it the maximum magnification setting only equated to 2x at the closest working distance which did not blur the image. The autofocus works pretty well on my 3GS (I don’t think other versions of the iPhone have focusing cameras so the app may not work as well on those). On my phone it focuses down to a minimum distance of about 10cm and the motion blur when the phone is moved along a line of text isn’t bad at all. I should mention that it’s pretty unusable unless you enable the full screen mode. It’s also pretty good for distance magnification, although it’s much harder to hold a phone steady than a monocular telescope.

It’s a shame it doesn’t have any image processing abilities, like contrast reversal or contrast enhancement, as I imagine the iPhone processor should be fast enough to allow this. It’s also a shame that higher magnification isn’t possible.

At present I think the app will be more useful to presbyopes who have forgotten their reading glasses than to people with visual impairment. However I think we will see more sophisticated software like this in the future: the next generation of electronic magnifiers will probably ‘piggyback’ onto existing technology rather than requiring new hardware. After all, I’ve yet to see an electronic magnifier company produce anything as attractive as an iPhone…


One response to “iPhone magnifier app

  1. Goodvision April 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I have, in my family, a person with low vision and the idea of using a mobile device (smartphone like iPhone) as an electronic loupe is excellent. All the building blocs are there. The prices of existing digital loupes are staggering, but I guess it is a question of market size for consumer electronics. I really hope the hardware speed of iPhone or equivalent enables high levels of magnification in the near future.

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