Color Vision for Colorblinds

Yesterday I went shopping. First I needed some fruits whereas I always encounter the same problem: Are the bananas already ripe or still green? At a first glance I couldn’t tell the difference and I didn’t like to ask a shop assistant or bite into a green banana at home. That’s why I took out my brand new ColorLuminator, held it onto the banana and pressed the one and only button. In an instance I could read the correct color on the built in screen. They are yellow. Great, I’ll take them.

Afterwards some cloth shopping had to be done as well. I needed some new shirts. My wife said I could buy a very fashioned purple one and a light green which would fit to my new trousers. So I went to the shop and had a look around. But there were so many shirts to choose from, which would usually be a very hard decision and often a lucky strike with my color blindness. And I was not in the mood to tell the story of my color blindness to the salesclerk. Again I took out my new favourite device, the ColorLuminator, pointed onto some shirts and found with its help the sought-after purple shirt.

On my why home the sun light was shining directly into the traffic lights and I couldn’t see if red or green is glowing. But again with the help of my ColorLuminator I made my way home safely.

Wouldn’t it be great? Great to have such a tool. Unfortunately this is not true yet. You can’t buy a ColorLuminator in the stores today. But Ian Cannon, a 17 year old student from Sydney, developed a tool like this and is on the way to maybe win the Nescafe Big Break, a big prize for young entrepreneurs. With the help of publicitiy and the money he could maybe make a dream come true and develop the ColorLuminator for the mass market. He was already thinking about this idea when he was 12. But only when he understood how to measure color he could start developing his Luminance Contrast Device.

I am looking forward to see some kind of tool like this ready to use. It could be of great help for people suffering any kind of color blindness. And maybe, if we look even further into the future, the ColorLuminator could be built into your glasses and show the name of the color you focus on directly on the glass itself. Wonderful.

Further readings:
Nescafé Big Break: Finalists 2006
Hot recipes for niche success

Related articles:
Green Bananas
Shopping for my Boy
Walk – Don’t Walk

3 responses on “Color Vision for Colorblinds

  1. Peter

    Hi Daniel, I would also be very interested in such a device. Luckily, it looks like other people are also working on it. I searched the US patent application database a few years back and found several patent applications relating to a pen-light kind of device that you could point at an object and it would take a trichromatic reading.

    I’m also interested in making a device like this cross-modal. So instead of having it show the color reading on a screen, having it play a particular sound that represents the color, or have poke your back in a particular pattern. I think it’s possible that your brain could learn to interpret this particular type of stimulus as color directly, so you would not have to say “okay, it’s yellow” you would just /know/ it was yellow because of some sound or touch stimulus that you were unconsciously translating into color. There is also already a patent application covering these kinds of cross-modal translations of color information into sound or what not.

  2. Daniel Fluck Post author

    Very nice. I like the idea of a direct transformation of color information into some other kind of signal very much. As you say, this would let you know the correct color instantly without your eyes being distracted by some kind of screen.

    I suppose we still have to wait a bit longer until we see some device like this on the market. Let’s wait and see.

  3. Peter

    I think the technology is there for the reader mechanism, but it would take a long time to be comercialized just for colorblind people. Hopefully it will find some other applications to speed it to market, maybe like precise, on-site color calibration for painters (I’ll try to think of more possibilities).

    On the side of transforming the information into other signals, the first examples will be on the computer, where you don’t need the physical reader mechanism; it can just convert the color of whatever you mouse over. If I had more time and more experience programming windows, I would try to do this myself.