Saturday, January 28, 2012

Assessing color reproduction tolerances in commercial print workflow

The presentation of this paper was somewhat hasty, because I forgot to finish the slides. I only realized this while I was setting up my laptop and quickly thumbed through the slides. I only had the short time during the break to quickly assemble the presentation by copying chunks from the paper, while also trying to help Dr. Tastl who was having a problem getting PowerPoint to recognize the projector. I guess this is what happens when we are burnt out…

Harmonious colors: from alchemy to science

Last weekend three storms swept through the Bay Area and it was a good thing, because it cleaned up the very dirty air. The attendees of Electronic Imaging enjoyed a perfect weather.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The First Time Ever I Heard Your Face

Neil Harbisson is a color-blind (achromatopsia) artist from Spain who has a cybernetic "third eye" attached to his head that enables him to hear color. This also makes him a genuine cyborg. Since 2005, Harbisson has used his sonochromatic retina to design sound portraits of famous people. The first person he experimented on was the immediate heir to the British throne, HRH The Prince of Wales.

He scans the eyes, hair and skin color of his subjects and works the individual notes into a musical chord. Harbisson explained, “Prince Charles noticed my electronic eye so, I politely asked him if I could listen to his face.” Apparently Prince Charles' lips sounded like a high E [a blue blood? --njg]. But his hair was almost inaudible—musically thin due to male-pattern baldness.

Some notable quotes from a recent BBC Outlook interview:

  • Color as words are "really, really, really, impossible to understand"
  • "Color has a frequency that we can't hear"
  • "Red is between F and F#" [? I would've thought it was A/A#. --njg]
  • "I hear the color through my bones, not through my ears"
  • The BBC interviewer's voice is "between orange and red"
  • Neil's fave "color" is Aubergine, which has a high pitched tone
  • "White is silent" [? I would've thought that was black. --njg]
And finally, here is Neil with his Eyeborg on daily maneuvers (video).

Related post: The Colorful Blind Painter

Friday, January 20, 2012

R&D not sufficient for success

As a follow-up on our previous post, the Economist has an interesting blog post Gone in a flash, which delves in the problem that for a technology company research is necessary but not sufficient for success, as I had pointed out in an earlier analysis of the fruits of R&D investment over a long time period.

An interesting comment in the Economist's blog post is that mergers and acquisitions are not necessarily useful. As Geoffrey A. Moore wrote in his latest book, the acquisition of a company is only fruitful if the buyer already has knowledge of that company's technology, so it can digest it.

If R&D is necessary, is it sufficient that a company must be able to digest research to feed its business? Digesting research is very difficult; maybe this is why companies fail over time: they are unable to find the leaders with this skill.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why is Kodak near death while Fujifilm is thriving?

Fascinating perspective in The Economist. Here are some quotes:
Fujifilm, too, saw omens of digital doom as early as the 1980s. It developed a three-pronged strategy: to squeeze as much money out of the film business as possible, to prepare for the switch to digital and to develop new business lines.
Kodak had become a complacent monopolist. Fujifilm exposed this weakness by bagging the sponsorship of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles while Kodak dithered. The publicity helped Fujifilm’s far cheaper film invade Kodak’s home market.
Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, who has advised the firm.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but that last quote is reminiscent of the difference in business philosophy between Microsoft and Apple. One wonders what Steve Jobs might have said about that. We do know what Bob Lutz (former Vice Chairman of General Motors) thinks about Ivy League business schools and MBA spreadsheet-based business strategies.

Postscript: See the Comments below for additional perspective.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Crows Remember Colors For A Year

Researchers have recently found that crows possess a long-term memory that allows them to remember colors for at least a year, a talent they use to successfully select containers containing food in experiments based on color cues after extended intervals. "It is not easy even for human beings to remember visual color information for a year. Crows may be even better than human beings in a certain aspect of memory," said Shoei Sugita, a professor of animal morphology at Utsunomiya University who led the joint research with Chubu Electric Power Co. The finding came as part of a study that Chubu Electric, troubled by problems presented by crows' nests on power line towers, commissioned in 2008.

Source: Science & Technology News from Japan, December 2011 • Dr. Felix Moesner

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Colored Time

"I have a meeting at purple o'clock." Say what!?

Meet the TimeHue® clock that represents time in HSL color space.

Frankly, I don't get it. Looks to me like a huge impedance mismatch for cognition. I'd have to keep checking my watch to decode it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Finding structure in large data sets

In color science we do not have sufficient knowledge about the visual system to formulate analytical models. However, in the past two centuries we have accumulated sufficient knowledge, that we do not have to resort to machine learning approaches like hidden Markov methods either. We are able to come up with equations that correlate well with what is perceived.

One would then assume, that color scientists excel in the mathematical statistics branch of correlations. Alas, the practice is less glorious and we tend to rely on Pearson's correlation to gauge the strength of association between pairs of stochastic variables. The caveat is that Pearson's correlation captures only linear correlation.