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Free Smart Phone App Helps Students With Math

  • Zlatica Hoke

School children usually can count on their parents to help them check if their homework is correct. But as students get older and their assignments get more complex, few parents are qualified to assist them. At least for mathematics there is a solution, as a Croatian computer whiz is responsible for creating an application for solving equations.

Computer programmer and entrepreneur Damir Sabol has created an application using smartphone cameras to scan mathematical equations and return results within seconds. But the app, called PhotoMath, does much more than that, he said.

"The students can check the results in their textbooks. They can calculate quickly and get the result fast, and see whether they did it right or not, but they can also get all the steps used to solve math problems. So it's not just a matter of getting results, but the whole process of getting to the solution. And we offer the entire process, step by step, along with explanations of what is being done. So for someone who is alone with a textbook, who just stares at equations and doesn't know what to do, our app can help them in many cases," said Sabol.

PhotoMath was unveiled at a computer fair in London last October. Sabol said that since then, the free application has been downloaded more than 11 million times.

"We hear from mothers who say, 'Finally, I can help my children solve mathematics.' We hear from teachers who say their entire classroom is using the app," he said.

Meanwhile, the inventor has been working on an upgrade for the successful app.

"We are about to release a new version of the app. First, we will release the Android version, which has a much bigger market, and we expect that to be the next element of growth. But not only that, the new version will support much more complex math problems, and we believe it will be much more interesting and useful for users, which is also why we expect the number of users to grow even further," said Sabol.

Sabol's company, MicroBLINK, made a breakthrough in 2012 with its PhotoPay scanning technology used for mobile banking, which scans bills and enables their instant payment. He said he has no regrets about making PhotoMath free because it has enabled his company to build a large database. His project has attracted attention from major educational companies.

"They see our technology is something that really works in education, and that it is something children want to use, and they see lots of potential for that. We believe this has really huge potential," he said.

Students who prefer electronic gadgets to books do, too.

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