JRM Vol.16 No.5 pp. 535-544
doi: 10.20965/jrm.2004.p0535


Development of Portable Color Discrimination for the Visually Impaired and Color Blindness

Mitsuyoshi Maekawa*, Shinya Hashizume**, Yasunori Touma**,
Yukiko Imai***, Hiroaki Seki***, and Yoshikatsu Hifumi****

*Industrial Research Institute of Ishikawa, 2-1 Kuratsuki, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-8203, Japan

**Hokkei Co., Ltd. 3-4-20 Masuizumi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 921-8025, Japan

***Graduate School of Natural Science & Technology, Kanazawa University, 2-40-20 Kodatsuno, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-8667, Japan

****Reha Vision Co., Ltd., 2-13 Asahidai, Tatsunokuti, Nomi, Ishikawa 923-1211, Japan

February 5, 2004
June 25, 2004
October 20, 2004
color discrimination, automated calibration, Shepard tone, visually impaired

The inability to discriminate color is an ongoing problem for the visually impaired and those with color blindness. We propose a portable color discrimination unit that communicates color information to users in verbal messages and sound. The unit states what color the target is and, by scanning its surface, transmits a continuous musical tone corresponding to color variations in the scanned area. The targetive is to make color patterns and the target layout recognizable, requiring 1) colorimetric stability, 2) translation of colorimetric information into an appropriate color name, and 3) setting of a relationship between color and sound. We propose using automated calibration and developed a colorimetric unit with high environmental robustness. Colorimetric data consists of RGB data, which does not lend itself readily to color discrimination, so we developed a way to convert RGB data to 220 color names. To develop easy-to-remember color-sound correspondence, we propose using the Shepard Tone Method, in which Shepard tones are mapped onto color hues. These are combined so users scan a target and hear a continuous sound and, if necessary, a color name, to recognize the target’s overall color pattern, somewhat akin to how a visually impaired person recognizes a sculpture by touching its surface.

Cite this article as:
Mitsuyoshi Maekawa, Shinya Hashizume, Yasunori Touma,
Yukiko Imai, Hiroaki Seki, and Yoshikatsu Hifumi, “Development of Portable Color Discrimination for the Visually Impaired and Color Blindness,” J. Robot. Mechatron., Vol.16, No.5, pp. 535-544, 2004.
Data files:
  1. [1] Japan Brail Library, E&C Project, “Results of the Questionnaire Survey for Persons with Visual Disability: Daily Inconveniences Experienced from Sunup to Nightfall,” Japan Brail Library, 1993.
  2. [2] K. Fukami, “Sense-of-color obstacle,” Kanahara, 1995 (in Japanese).
  3. [3] F. Furuno et al., “Colour Discriminating Apparatus for the Blind,” 1st International Conference on Computer for Handicapped Persons, pp. 134-143, 1989.
  4. [4] F. Furuno, “Color identification apparatus for the visually handicapped,” The 4th Japanese Conference on the Advancement of Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology, pp. 171-174, 1989.
  5. [5] F. Furuno, “Study on color identification apparatus for the visually handicapped,” Shokugyou Nouryoku Kaihatsu Journal, Vol.33, No.7, pp. 25-28, 1991 (in Japanese).
  6. [6] M. Gatto, “A study on the Color Discrimination System for a Color-blind Person,” Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute Research Reports, No.81, pp. 13-16, 1996.
  7. [7] K. Takahashi, “Oto wo onsei de yomiageru iro-sensa,” Transistor Gijutsu, Vol.27, No.7, pp. 260-262, 2000 (in Japanese).
  8. [8] O. Sueda, “Sensory Characteristics for Burst Vibration and Sense of “Vibro-Hue”,” Proceedings of 7th Sensory Substitution Symposium, pp. 66-73, 1981.
  9. [9] Acoustical Society of Japan, “Oto no nandemo shou-jiten,” Koudansha, 1996 (in Japanese).
  10. [10] H. Saisyo, “Perfect Pitch,” Shogakukan, 1998 (in Japanese).
  11. [11] D. Iwai, N. Nagata, S. H. Wake, and S. Inokuchi, “Approach to Non-verbal Mapping between Sound and Color,” Proc. SICE Annual Conference 2002 in Osaka (SICE2002), pp. 34-39, 2002.
  12. [12] J. L. Caivano, “Color and Sound,” Physical and Psychophysical Relations, COLOR research and application, Vol.19, No.2, pp. 126-133, 1994.
  13. [13] The Color Science Association of Japan, “Handbook of Color Science,” University of Tokyo Press, 1998.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera.

Last updated on Mar. 05, 2021