Category Archives: news

AIC2017

There is still time to submit an abstract for AIC2017 which will be held this autumn in Jeju island in South Korea. It’s probably the largest colour conference of the year and every four years they have an especially large one called the congress. We hosted the last congress in UK but this time it is the turn of South Korea. If you can attend this conference I highly recommend it as a way to meet all sorts of interesting and colourful people.

UK favourite car colours

The top three favourite car colours in the UK in 2016 were white, black and grey (in that order). White has been the best seeing colour for four years which is interesting because it never used to be popular in the UK. Car salesman used to refer to the colour as three-week white because it took three weeks longer to sell a white car compared with other colours. But it’s 10 years now since a chromatic colour was number 1.

For further details see here.

Has technology for Harry Potter’s Daily Prophet just arrived?

I believe that print as we know it is dead. I know that there are some arguing that print is having a resurgence – just as there are those who think that vinyl is on the way back for music – but reports that physical books are gaining ground at the expense of digital are just plain wrong as is explained in this article. I saw this before with digital images where people argued that digital images would never replace traditional photography because of quality and price. Well, of course, we know that the quality of digital images increased and the cost of getting them decreased (when I was a student in the 80s it would have been bizarre to imagine that everyone would have a couple of cameras on them at all times) – but it was not this that killed traditional photography and eventually put the giant Kodak out of business. What killed traditional photography was when you could go to a gig, take a photo, and share it almost instantly with your friends around the world. Traditional photography could never compete with this.

Some people prefer reading print to looking at a screen though I am not one of them. But imagine when an e-document feels like paper, is light and flexible, but you can carry a whole newspaper with you (not to mention all the novels you have ever read) by carrying just one piece of it. And it looks just like print.

E ink, the company behind the pigment-based, low-energy monochromatic displays found in many of today’s popular readers has worked out how to create up to 32,000 colours using almost the same technology. For the first time they can create colours at each pixel using yellow, cyan, magenta and white pigments. The new display is 20-inch with 2500 x 1600 resolution. The image below is rendered in this way. This leads to the possibility of having coloured moving images made out of ink – just like the Daily Prophet in the Harry Potter movies. Well, not quite like that yet. But it’s coming. More details here.

ink

light that changes colour with your mood

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The future of lighting is LEDs and that means more colour. There are many advantages of LED lighting over tungsten or even fluorescent lights not least of which is the opportunity for more colour. I have noticed all of the new buildings on the campus at the University of Leeds are equipped with coloured lighting. The Laidlaw library – and even the new car park – is illuminated at night in an eerie purple glow.

The Syska SmartLight plugs into a standard socket but then can be controlled using the “Syska Rainbow LED” app for your Android or iOS phone or tablet.

I want one. But I am not sure they are on sale in the UK. More details here.

cigarette packaging colour

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New regulations – from 20 May 2016 – will see all cigarette packaging in the same drab green colour.colour with other standardised features such as opening mechanism and font, and with 60 per cent of the casing covered by text and images showing how smoking affects your health. The decision was made in Parliament on 15 May last year.

They have also been told to get rid of any misleading information from cigarette packs, and have been prevented from using words such as ‘organic’, ‘natural’ or ‘lite’, which could lead consumers to believe there is a healthy smoking option.

Further information can be found in this article in The Independent.

The images shown above are from a similar scheme in Australia.

do glasses for colour blindness work?

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For a while there have been coloured lenses on the market that claim that to make colour blindness better. I have my doubts about this. I have tested some of these glasses in my own research and found that they do not work. So I was interested to hear of work by Rebecca Mastey and Richard Schultz at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay that also finds that the products do not work. The researchers tested products from with 27 men with genetically confirmed red-green colour blindness.

The O2 Amp glasses showed some improvement with deuteranomalous observers and deuteranopes, no improvement was found for protonopes whilst the EnChroma glasses had no significant impact on the red-green colour discrimination of any of the participants. The work was presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Seattle.

“The data confirm that these glasses don’t work,” says Dr. Carroll. “In fact, they make some aspects of your vision worse.”

Out of interest, there is also this personal story about a guy with anomalous trichromacy who tested some glasses from EnChroma and fond they made no difference at all.

The future of colour is quantum

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Although our digital displays can show literally millions of colours in fact they show us less than half of the possible colours in the world. This is partly because of the reliance on trichromatic devices – what you probably know as RGB. No matter how we choose them, it is impossible to mix together three colours and make all of the other colours. This is despite this embarrassing statement on the BBC website:

Red, yellow and blue are primary colours, which means they can’t be mixed using any other colours. In theory, all other colours can be mixed from these three colours.

This is just plain wrong. It is not the case that in theory, all other colours can be mixed from these three colours. In theory, and in practice, they cannot.

But I digress. The point is that using a three-colour primary system – a trichromatic system – is never going be able to reproduce all of the possible colours in the world. But even if we do use three, we could do better than the current TVs, phones and tablets on the market if we could improve our technology. The problem is that the red, green and blue lights in these displays are not as bright and colourful as they could be. That is where quantum dots come in.

Quantum dots are tiny crystals that can be precisely tuned to efficiently produce very specific colours. The crystals are grown from a mixture of various semiconductor materials and liquid solvents. By carefully controlling the conditions, engineers can adjust the size of the crystals, which determines the wavelength of the light that the crystals emit. Smaller quantum dots, with a diameter of two nanometres (two billionths of a metre) or so, emit short-wavelength, or blue, light. Bigger dots, with diameters closer to eight nanometres, produce light that’s nearer the long-wavelength, or red, end of the spectrum. We can expect to see new technology on the market soon offering brighter and more colourful displays.

green light may cure your headache

I get migraines. Not often. Just a few times each year. But when I get one I have been known to turn off the lights and go to sleep in my office. I have found that taking a pain killer and then going to sleep is the only way to relieve my symptoms. But a study in the journal Brain suggests that exposure to green light actually has a beneficial effect.

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In the study 80 percent of subjects reported intensification of headache with exposure to high intensity of light, except green. Surprisingly, the researchers found that exposure to green light reduced pain 20 percent. They also found that the signals generated in the retina for green light are smaller than those signals generated for red and blue light. Researchers are now trying to develop a more affordable light bulb that emits pure narrow-band wavelength of green light and sunglasses that can block out all colours of light except narrow-band green light.

clothes that change colour

Colour-shifting threads that change their hues in response to electrical charges are being developed as part of Google’s Project Jacquard. The technology still has a way to go before it could be in the shops but it gives the potential that your could change the colour of your clothes with the ‘flick of a switch’ rather than buying new ones or even that clothes could change colour with your mood. As if that would be a good thing.

For more see here.

Looking for colour blind people

colour blind example

Most colour blindness is hereditary. The faulty ‘gene’ for colour blindness is found only on the X chromosome. You have two X chromosomes if you are female or an X and a Y chromosome if you are male. It is because females have two copies of the X chromosome that they are far less likely to be colour blind. A male inherits his X chromosome from his mother and his Y chromosome from his father. So men do not inherit colour blindness from their fathers but from their mothers who can be carriers if they have one faulty X chromosome. Snoooooooooze. Probably you are bored reading this. The real point of this post is to say that Bradford University in the UK are studying colour blindness and are seeking females who are not colour blind but who have a child or a sibling who is. If this sounds like you please get involved in the study, help someone get their PhD, and maybe find out something interesting and useful. For more details see here.