Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An App By Boomers For Boomers: Eye Reader

At least one small company out there is creating apps that take Baby Boomer needs seriously and maybe the reason is this: the company is being run by a 1972 graduate of Texas Tech. If you do the math, you'll know that the engineer creating these apps, Gerry Lavender, is a Boomer himself. His muse and business partner is his wife, Carol.

In a recent interview, Carol told me that she and her friends came up with the idea for a line of “Silver Apps” that would address Boomer needs and then asked Gerry to implement the ideas. Gerry, who has been a computer consultant and programmer for years, works from his home in San Antonio, Texas and calls his company NetSoft. The first app from Gerry and Carol's collaboration is called EyeReader, an ingenious little program that costs $1.99 in the Apple App Store. Fair warning. The EyeReader app only works on the iPhone 4 right now.

The EyeReader app shines an LED light on a page and the phone's illuminated screen magnifies (up to 5 times) the print you want to read. It's perfect for small print on menus in dark restaurants, medicine bottles, footnotes etc. As one of the founders told another interviewer, “ you might forget your reading glasses, but you always have your phone with you.”

I don't have an iPhone 4, but three members of my family each have one, so I asked to borrow a phone to try out this app in person. I downloaded the app from the app store directly to the phone:

This is NetSoft's picture of this app at work:

And here is a picture my son took of the app looking at a yogurt label: Note that you can't get the whole label in one shot. You have to move the phone around to find the particular items you want to magnify and light up.
And here is another shot of a medicine label:
I tried out the app on a Playbill I received for a play I recently attended. I'm always frustrated when I attempt to read the small print in those things. All you have to do is open the app and aim the phone at the area you want to read. It’s pretty simple, although I have to admit it took me a little practice and patience to make this app work to my satisfaction. However, it was worth the effort. Once I figured out how to maneuver the iPhone and expand the magnification, I was able to clearly read what I wanted to read. The key: you need to take two fingers and spread the image on the phone's face to see maximum magnification.

I found myself wondering why the EyeReader wasn't available for the iPhone 3GS, and Carol explained that until the light was on the same side of the camera as the lens, the app couldn't combine both light and magnification. With the iPhone 4, and its two cameras, you have that combination. 

So what does the future hold for the Silver Apps? Right now, Gerry is porting the app to Android phones and a finished product should be available for those users soon. In addition, a magnify only version will be available for the iPhone 3GS. 

Also, the duo is cooking up some additional apps designed for our generation. Those of us who have diminished hearing, but don't quite need a hearing aid, probably will like an app NetSoft is creating that combines Bluetooth with the phone to amplify hearing. You'll put a Bluetooth bud in your ear, tap the app on the iPhone and the phone will amplify the sounds in the room for you.

Another upcoming app creates a password protected lock box for all your prescription information. No more showing up at the doctor's office without your list of medications. The list will be on your phone where you can't forget it. I know quite a few younger people that could use something like that too! Another app will make use of the GPS info on your phone to help you find your car in a parking lot.

I can't wait to see what they come up with next. And I'm happy to see Baby Boomers actually inventing the apps aimed at our generation.


Exemplics LLC said...

DimLit provides functionality similar to EyeReader but has the advantages that it does runs on more devices (3GS or later, including iPod touch 4 and iPad 2), does not require a flash, it increases sharpness and contrast, has unlimited magnification and is only $0.99.
View a demonstration at: http://youtu.be/HrlSsPGliPw

DimLit is available on the App Store here: http://itunes.apple.com/app/dimlit/id469819914?mt=8

More more information visit: http://www.exemplics.com/

Kaye Swain - SandwichINK for Grandparents and Caregivers said...

Thanks for a very interesting article. I had found a couple of magnifiers for my iPhone 3gs that have continued to be helpful on my 4, but I have downloaded this one as well to see how it compares - easy wise, light wise- I'm especially interested in the light function. That's such a BIG help, isn't it? :

I'm also quite excited to hear that they are planning more boomer and senior friendly and useful iphone apps for all of us. Great news!

And CONGRATS on being nominated for an ALTY award from Assisted Living Today. I'll head back there now to vote for you :) Have a great day!

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