Saturday, April 15, 2017

Human Color Vision Enhanced to 4 Colors

Electrons and Holes: University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers come up with an idea that potentially can kick-start a market for 4 or more color image sensors (and displays) instead of today's RGB ones. Their paper "Enhancement of human color vision by breaking the binocular redundancy" by Bradley S. Gundlach, Alireza Shahsafi, Gregory Vershbow, Chenghao Wan, Jad Salman, Bas Rokers, Laurent Lessard, and Mikhail A. Kats proposes a way to get some of the hyperspectral camera abilities in a very simple way:

"To see color, the human visual system combines the responses of three types of cone cells in the retina - a process that discards a significant amount of spectral information. We present an approach that can enhance human color vision by breaking the inherent redundancy in binocular vision, providing different spectral content to each eye. Using a psychophysical color model and thin-film optimization, we designed a wearable passive multispectral device that uses two distinct transmission filters, one for each eye, to enhance the user's ability to perceive spectral information. We fabricated and tested a design that "splits" the response of the short-wavelength cone of individuals with typical trichromatic vision, effectively simulating the presence of four distinct cone types between the two eyes ("tetrachromacy"). Users of this device were able to differentiate metamers (distinct spectra that resolve to the same perceived color in typical observers) without apparent adverse effects to vision. The increase in the number of effective cones from the typical three reduces the number of possible metamers that can be encountered, enhancing the ability to discriminate objects based on their emission, reflection, or transmission spectra. This technique represents a significant enhancement of the spectral perception of typical humans, and may have applications ranging from camouflage detection and anti-counterfeiting to art and data visualization."


  1. See like pigeons, although they see five colors, the combinations become unimaginable to the human spirit.

  2. "without apparent adverse effects to vision"? How do you assure that? Sounds like an area for significant human studies, with proper safety protocols. Just make sure you don't mess up your vision kids, just because you don't think it can happen to you.

  3. This is greater than it first appears. Essentially it is a 'pair of Sunglasses' or like '3D Cellophane Glasses' (Anaglyphic) that splits the light reaching one type of Cone into a left and right image; stimulating an ability to differentiate another color spectrum (outside of what is currently detectable).

    The Shrimp is way ahead (Dodecachromats, 16 Cone types) and in addition to a wider Spectrum can also "see" Polarization (including Circular Polarization) and incorporate that information (Data) into it's perception of the object (it sees "better" and differently).

    Some 3D Glasses use some fancy filtering to split the Video Frame for each eye (more than just the old fashioned Red/Green 1st Generation colors). It should be possible to design filters that can split 2 ways for all three Cones instead of just one, further extending this technique.

    They could Nanoparticle Coat these Filters to provide Thermal Vision Overlay (like the ANU Nanocrystal Glasses): .

    Still won't beat the Mantis Shrimp.


All comments are moderated to avoid spam.