Researchers at Wakayama University are developing a system that manipulates the color, tone and contrast of printed materials, and could be used as an aid for users with vision impairments such as low vision or color blindness.
“In this research, we use a projector and camera to freely manipulate the tone and contrast of printed materials like this, by shining light onto them.”
“Right now, white light from the projector is hitting the material. In this device, there’s a camera, which photographs the scene. By controlling the projected light based on the scene, we can make the colors more vivid, for example, like this. The way the system works is, to put it very simply: Blue light is projected onto blue parts, and red light onto red parts, making the colors more vivid.”
“By changing the image processing, we can change color tones as well, like this. We can also make the picture monochrome, make the brightness uniform, or increase the contrast.”
“The point about this technology is, this kind of processing can be done dynamically. In other words, even if the printed material is moved, the system can track it and emphasize the colors.”
“When the light is projected, the actual color tone changes. So, the camera captures the altered color tone. The problem with that is, you can no longer tell how many real colors there are, or how many colors should be projected next. In this research, the system calculates the physical reflectivity of the captured image and the projected image. That estimation is a major feature of this technology.”
“One possible application for this is augmenting human vision. For example, if a person is colorblind, this system could adjust color tones so colors can be distinguished, even if there are combinations of confusing colors. Or a person with cataracts could be helped to see other people’s expressions, by emphasizing outlines.”
Also, by arranging the camera and projector into the same position optically, this image processing technique can be applied to 3D objects as well.
“We’ve added a texture adjustment algorithm, to make opaque objects look semi-transparent, or emphasize their luster, to make them look metallic.”
“We’re currently looking for businesses that might have applications for this technology.”