Category Archives: Color ID Free

Color ID – a Greengar story

Engineers create and build great products that make life better.

When I was in college, my most joyful moments were when my code worked, and my programs ran smoothly. College life is only four years, but engineering is a career for life.

After graduating from USC, Elliot and I decided to continue developing fun, simple, and useful apps for mobile platforms. Unlike college, in the real world we don’t have professors giving us problems to solve. We have to really figure out the problems we want to solve for the people around us.

We created an app called Color Identifier. Although it doesn’t reach millions of people like some other Greengar apps, I’m the most proud of this app. The app originates from the SS12: Code for a Cause event at USC. SS12 is a Hackathon to develop software for disabled people. Elliot Lee, the Founder of Greengar, attended that event in the role of Mentor. Leveraging the open source code developed at the event, he developed it into the most useful color identifier app on iOS.

In September 2010, Color ID gained world-wide attention for being an interesting and helpful application for color blind and visually-impaired people. Austin Seraphin’s blog post about his experience with Color ID collected 257 comments and 111 trackbacks.

Today, we are thrilled to release a new update for Color ID. The new release is fully optimized for the iPad. This update has taken a while, so we’re glad that it’s finally available.

Currently, I’m looking into new technologies to synthesize speech so that the app can be available in more languages. If you’re an engineer interested in contributing to this app, please contact me.

Color ID is also available for Android on Google Play.

Color ID is now beautiful on iPad.

Download it on the App Store now!


Posted by Thuy Muoi @thuymuoi, VP of Human Resources
Ho Chi Minh City, rainy late night, September 6th, 2012

Color Identifier for the blind

Today, Color Identifier (also known as Color ID, as it appears on the iPhone home screen) picked up a lot of attention.

Jazzberry Jam or Deep Purplish Red? Color Identifier can show Exotic Colors or Simple Colors

Color ID Free by Greengar Studios

I think it started with a blind person’s excellent blog post about his experience with an iPhone. I found it to be very touching– I highly recommend reading it. Here’s the relevant part:

The other night, however, a very amazing thing happened. I downloaded an app called Color ID. It uses the iPhoneÂ’s camera, and speaks names of colors. It must use a table, because each color has an identifier made up of 6 hexadecimal digits. This puts the total at 16777216 colors, and I believe it. Some of them have very surreal names, such as Atomic Orange, Cosmic, Hippie Green, Opium, and Black-White. These names in combination with what feels like a rise in serotonin levels makes for a very psychedelic experience.

I have never experienced this before in my life. I can see some light and color, but just in blurs, and objects donÂ’t really have a color, just light sources. When I first tried it at three oÂ’clock in the morning, I couldnÂ’t figure out why it just reported black. After realizing that the screen curtain also disables the camera, I turned it off, but it still have very dark colors. Then I remembered that you actually need light to see, and it probably couldnÂ’t see much at night. I thought about light sources, and my interview I did for Get Lamp. First, I saw one of my beautiful salt lamps in its various shades of orange, another with its pink and rose colors, and the third kind in glowing pink and red.. I felt stunned.

The next day, I went outside. I looked at the sky. I heard colors such as “Horizon,” “Outer Space,” and many shades of blue and gray. I used color queues to find my pumpkin plants, by looking for the green among the brown and stone. I spent ten minutes looking at my pumpkin plants, with their leaves of green and lemon-ginger. I then roamed my yard, and saw a blue flower. I then found the brown shed, and returned to the gray house. My mind felt blown. I watched the sun set, listening to the colors change as the sky darkened. The next night, I had a conversation with Mom about how the sky looked bluer tonight. Since I can see some light and color, I think hearing the color names can help nudge my perception, and enhance my visual experience. Amazing!

I love my iPhone. It changed my universe as soon as it entered it.

– Austin Seraphin

I’m honored and humbled to have contributed this great experience.

He writes: “Last Wednesday, my life changed forever. I got an iPhone. I consider it the greatest thing to happen to the blind for a very long time, possibly ever.” Of course, there are many things about the iPhone that makes it such a boon for the blind. Color Identifier is just one of them, and for that, I’m very glad.

The article was on Hacker News. Carlos McEvilly pointed it out to me. (Thanks, Carlos!)

In addition, it has been tweeted and retweeted hundreds of times. Here’s a small selection:

firsthand account of an iphone “I watched the sun set, listening to the colors change as the sky darkened”
- @gussetingblind

RT @vaughanbell: Amazing last paragraphs of iPhone review by blind user on how it names color and affects perception.
- @snarkyxanf

Really .liking how Color Identifier updates info in real-time as you walk around.
- @ricky_enger

Ricky also submitted Color Identifier to AppleVis. I’m glad VoiceOver can read the hex value. I didn’t do anything special to make this work– I didn’t test with VoiceOver prior to releasing the app– so it looks like Apple has done a good job making the standard UI controls accessible :)

Color Identifier was also featured on Gizmodo, Cult of Mac,, and GeekDad on Wired.

“Best App Ever” -NPR

“How wonderful! This could also help me avoid arguments with my wife about what color something is. I have such a restricted color vocabulary.” -Brumley Gap

“This is great news. I need to tell my son about this since he is color blind.” -Anonymous

The Daily Dish – The Atlantic

Follow-up broadcast by Austin Seraphin (audio)

I noticed that downloads of Color Identifier experienced a sharp uptick today. If I remember to do it, I will later post graphs to show the increase.

What do you think of the attention Color Identifier is getting? Have you tried the app? What suggestions do you have? (Due to all the new attention, I’m definitely going to update the app soon!)