Tag Archives: technology


Very interested in this new colour-measurement device called the swatchmate cube.


The new device is launched by Swatchmate on November 13th. That;s two day’s time from now. It captures the colour and displays it on your smartphone. Does it provide any numerical data such as CIELAB? I don’t know. How much is it? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out at the launch!!

Colour e-paper

A few years ago I just didn’t really get the Kindle. Why would anyone buy a device that looks and behaves like something several generations behind a modern tablet? After all, can’t an iPad do every a Kindle can do and lots more? That was before I tried a Kindle and understood what people mean by e-paper. Fundamentally an iPad is a light-emissive device whereas the Kindle is a light-reflective device. In the dark the iPad is great but try reading it on a sun bed on holiday. Whereas the Kindle is hard to read in the dark but is easier to read in very bright conditions; just like an old-fashioned book or newspaper.

But there are two things that still let e-paper technology down. The refresh rate is slow and it’s mainly still just shades of grey. Where is the colour e-paper that promised to revolutionise our mobile displays? According to industry expert Sean Buckley the technology of colour e-paper may be grinding to a halt. And now it seems that consumers are losing interest in e-readers anyway. To read Sean’s fascinating account in full please click here.


Can colour save lives?

I have worked in colour for pretty much all my working life. Though it has led to a rewarding and stimulating career (with a little bit of success) and though my passion for colour has never waned, I do sometimes wonder if i could have put my life to something more useful. Not that colour is not useful, far from it, but what I mean is something that could save lives. For example, perhaps I could have become a researcher looking into a cure for cancer. Compared with research like that, doesn’t colour sometimes seem frivolous and secondary?

So my Friday morning today was just cheered up a little when I came across an article in the Grundig about how colour-changing technology could revolutionise the medical industry. Apparently, 1.3 million people die each year because of unsafe injections, making the humble injection the most dangerous clinical procedure in the world. Part of the problem is that syringes are sometimes accidentally reused without sterilisation.


In response to this serious issue, David Swann at the University of Huddersfield – just down the road from where I work – developed a “behaviour-changing syringe” that warns when the needle is unsafe. Once opened the syringe turns bright red within sixty seconds. It’s not even expense. Apparently a standard syringe costs 2.5 pence whereas the “behaviour-changing syringe” costs 2.65 pence.

See the original article here.

colour correction for iphone

colour correction for iphone

Of course, one of the reasons (but by far not the only one) that the iphone has been so successful is the quality of the camera that is built in. It was certainly one of the features that made me switch from Nokia about 3 years ago after more than 15 years of loyalty to the swedish brand. So I was interested to read recently that the next iphone may feature advanced colour correction methods and promises to be even better than its predecessors. You can read about the story here.

Colour correction is necessary because different cameras use different RGB primaries and because the activation of the RGB sensors when taking an image depend upon the quantity and quality of the ambient illumination. So, for example, imagine the light was very very red, then the R channel of the camera would be more strongly activated than if the light was whiter. However, our visual systems are able to compensate for this so that most of the time we don’t notice objects changing colour when we move from one room to another or from inside to outside. Colour correction is inspired by human colour constancy and attempt to correct the images so that the objects in the scene would retain their daylight appearance. However, colour correction is difficult; that is, it is very difficult to get it right all of the time. One frustration I have is taking a photo of my band (I play drums in a covers band) under very colourful lighting. Often the images are very disappointing and lack the intensity of the original scene. That is because, human colour constancy is only partial and under extreme lighting things really do change colour markedly – such as under our intense LED stage lighting. In these cases I think sometimes the automatic colour correction is actually too much and I have found that I have to modify the images I capture on my mac to try to recreate what I think the original scene looked like. So auto colour correction – the state of the art – is certainly not perfect. Let’s hope this story about an advance made by Apple is true.

what is it like to be colour blind?

Another simulator on the market that shows you what your image or website would look like to someone who is colour blind. This one is from a company called ETRE – for further details see http://www.etre.com/tools/colourblindsimulator/

In the image series below the left image is normal and the ones in the middle and right show protonopia and deuteranopia respectively.


For more on colour blindness see my earlier post.

Race for colour

The films were made by a young British photographer and inventor called Edward Turner, a pioneer who can now lay claim to being the father of moving colour film, well before the pioneers of Technicolor.

The footage will be shown to the public from 13 September at the museum in Bradford. And a BBC documentary, The Race for Colour, will be broadcast on 17 September in the Yorkshire and south-east regions on BBC1. I will feature in the film for a minute or two. Exciting.

For further details see the story in the Guardian.

measuring skin colour

I came across an article in the Daily Mail about a phone app that can be used to measure skin colour. It is produced by Fujitsu. Trying to measure colour using a digital camera is difficult. The RGB values you obtain depend upon the lighting and the settings of the camera and even on the make of the camera. Technically, we say that the RGB values are device-dependent. Fujitsu have got around this by using a mask (see picture) that contains some standard colours that are skin tones. Presumably the app grabs the RGB values of the standard colours and then uses these to make an adjustment to the captured RGB values of the actual skin. It’s very clever and I am impressed.

colour kindle

I recently used a Kindle for the first time. I have never had much interest in them; since a smart phone or a tablet seem to do everything that a Kindle does and a whole lot more. However, there is one advantage of the Kindle and that is that the screen is easier to read the brighter the ambient illumination. So on holiday, for example, the Kindle really comes into its own if you want to read novels on your sun lounger. Nevertheless, it is a major limitation that the screen is only black and white. For reading novels I guess its ok; but for lots of other reading material I think colour would enrich the experience. It had been thought that a colour kindle was many years away. But today I read a report on CNET that claims that Amazon is set to launch a colour e-reader later this year. There are doubts about whether the technology is ready yet … we’ll see.