Let there be Light Detectors

I feel glad to report that we can now add light probes to the list of blind technology now made obsolete by the iPhone. Recently, I received an email from a blind user who worked with Everywhere Technologies to create the Light Detector app. It costs a dollar and behaves as advertised.

The app works very simply. It produces a constantly wavering tone. A higher tone means a more intense light source. It doesn’t even have any controls. Just start it and enjoy. Press the home button to end. Perfect.

Unlike the Color Identifier app which I previously demonstrated, this app measures the intensity of the light as opposed to its color. Often, this will tell you all you need to know. For example, when I used Earthlink, which I recently learned still exists, we had a little problem. My DSL went out as it would from time to time. Usually it didn’t matter, but once in a great while I would have to call in a ticket to get it resolved. At first this didn’t pose a problem, I would explain that I couldn’t tell them about the lights on the modem and they would understand and fill out the ticket and I would get my net back. Then one day this happened and I called in only to find that they had outsourced their tech support. I couldn’t believe it. I kept trying to explain to some guy in Goddess knows where that I could not see the lights on the modem. “That’s what blind means. I can’t see the lights.” I kept saying, but to no avail. Of course it happened when the rest of my family went on a vacation and I couldn’t summon a sighted person to immediately come and tell them about the stupid lights on the stupid modem. As a result I didn’t have my DSL for a week and that ended our relationship. I wish I would have had this app then.

It seems interesting to me that this app gives a different way to perceive light than the Color Identifier app. Some might wonder why one would just want to know the intensity, when you could know the color. The two things make up two properties of light. Color Identifier will pick up the color of objects, of light reflected off objects, and of light sources. The Light Detector app just picks up the intensity of a light source. It intrigues me to perceive vision in these two different modalities. Once again, technology makes it possible.

I feel inspired that the iPhone continues to make other specialized technology mainstream and obsolete. I feel inspired that a blind user worked with developers to make this wonderful app. As a programmer, I feel inspired by the app’s minimalist design. You never know what wonderful surprises life will bring next. Let there be light, and let there be light detectors. You can hear an audio demonstration here.