For the 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women that are color blind, watching video can be a frustrating experience. Yet the industry has done nothing to find a color blindness fix to improve the experience for these 14 million Americans. That could be about to change.
Color blindness is caused by an inability of suffers to fully see the colors red, green or blue. 75% of color blind people have problems with the colors red and green, and the other 25% with red and black/grey. That means they cannot distinguish these colors, and have difficulty distinguishing colors which have red or green components. For example, they have difficulty distinguishing purple (which has a strong red component) and blue (what’s left when you take the red out of purple.)
This can play havoc when watching sports. In a recent NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jets it was virtually impossible for someone with red/green color blindness to tell the two teams apart. However, a new technology could be about to change that.
I met with Christopher Cytera, Managing Director of Spectral Edge, and he showed me new technology, called Eyeteq, designed to improve color visibility in images for the color-deficient. Eyeteq does this by reconstructing each video frame with a patented algorithm which concentrates the spectral energy into wavelengths to which the color-deficient are more sensitive. This results in a color-deficient person being able to discern the difference between two colors that previously looked identical to them.
Eyeteq image processing takes place in real-time, on the client device. That means those creating or distributing video do not need to modify their processes or procedures. However, Eyeteq needs to act directly on the video as it is being processed by the device’s video processor. Mr. Citera is currently talking with processor manufacturers to get support for Eyeteq added.
Best of all, the resulting Eyeteq-processed image remains perfectly acceptable to the 96% of people that are not color-deficient. That’s important, as it means all the members of a family can still watch TV together if they want to.
To prove how well the technology works, SpectralEdge commissioned i2media to do an independent study of Eyeteq’s effectiveness. The study found that:
- 80% of colorblind viewers preferred the Eyeteq treated video
- 90% of people with normal color sensitivity found the Eyeteq treated video quality acceptable.
Generally, those with normal color sensitivity found the video of good quality, and more colorful. Similarly, color-blind viewers said they found the Eyeteq treated video more colorful, and they liked it more. Neither group experienced any negative side-effects (headaches or motion-sickness, etc.)
The i2 Media study also asked what color blind participants would expect to pay for the technology. When buying a new TV, they expected to pay between $60-$100 more, and $10-$12 more per month for a subscription video service.
The non-disruptive nature of Eyeteq opens up some intriguing possibilities for video distributors to differentiate their products. Pay TV operators can provide devices built around Eyeteq-enabled processors, and charge subscribers more to get them. Device manufacturers can provide versions of their products with Eyeteq built in and charge a premium for them.
Given that the plight of color-blind customers has been widely ignored for so long, they are likely to be very grateful for the opportunity to get products and service, even at a higher price, that address their problem. And who in the pay TV community couldn’t use a little more love from their customers!
Why it matters
The 14 million Americans with color blindness have been completely ignored by the television and movie industry.
A new technology could improve viewing considerably for these consumers.
This is an opportunity for operators and CE manufacturers as the color blind are willing to pay more for services and products that address their problem.