Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Musings on Colorblindness

A short time ago a friend who was ill asked me to pick up some sets of sheets. She wanted light blue or possibly a light beige.

So when I got to the store I easily found a light blue set. The package was clearly marked as light blue. Easy enough for me. I can sometimes get confused between blue and purple but the label made sure I was on safe ground.

She did want two or three sets and I did not think three blue was a very good idea. Anyway, there was only one blue in her size.

Other colors available were black, red and yellow which were not on the wish list.

She already had a light green set so I figured light brown or tan would be a natural choice.

Brown and green for a person with red-green colorblindness can be very difficult to distinguish. On top of this, rather then simply identifying the colors as brown or green or whatever they decided that pretty names like sagebrush and hawthorn were much more attractive. You can not understand how frustrating this can be.

I once bought a suit that I just made up my mind was the perfect brown suit I needed. It looked perfect to me and I did not have the basic common sense to ask someone else what the color was. Needless to say when I got it home and finally figured out it was green it never left the hanger. Not even on St. Patrick's Day. I was too embarrassed to admit my mistake.

At least with the bedding I had the sense to ask a salesperson when I finally found one.

I really wish there was some sort of device available that you could hold up to a shirt or whatever and would display a simple name of the color. Or you could hold near a car and it would tell you it was red rather than candyapple or whatever.

I am not talking about a scientific instrument like a fabric colorimeter. What I am looking for is something that will average the value over an area to give a simple one word description so it would work for things like plaids, patterns, or things like metallic finishes.

Something simple you could point and click to get results while shopping or browsing.

Maybe a cellphone app that uses the camera and averages the color over an area would be useful and handy. Just make sure it resolves into basic colors like red, green, blue, brown and forget marketing wonders like mocha, azure and whatever.

The relief that a simple device like this would provide would be tremendous. Whether it would be a single purpose color detector or a cell phone app is not important.

What is important is the sense of relief it would give to 10% of the male population and 1% of the female population that sees colors in a little different way than the rest of the population.

All I have found so far are industrial testers and a few complicated looking things including cell phone apps.

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