Glasses which change/intensify color perception

Date: Mon May 15 2000 - 10:25:57 MDT

An article on slashdot today describes the grant by cypherpunk Raph
Levien of 19 patents he owns to be used for free by open source software
projects. Most of his patents relate to printing technology; I have
heard that Raph has made quite a good living from licensing his patents.
It is very generous of him to give this technology away in this manner.

One of the patents might be of interest to those wanting to expand their
sensory inputs. Raph describes a special pair of glasses designed to
enhance color perception:

The idea is that the lenses filter certain frequencies so that others are
relatively enhanced. One eye's filter enhances red, green, and blue,
tuned to match human color receptors. The other eye's filter enhances
the complementary colors.

As I understand it, this would produce no change when viewing a black and
white image, because these are uniform mixtures of colors. However when
viewing a colored object, each eye would see a different mixture of the
light frequencies which go into making up the color. Presumably the
goal is that the brain would over time learn to integrate the two color
experiences from the two eyes and produce a unified color perception.
This would in effect be a six-channel color rather than the three-channel
color we normally see. Two objects which look like the same color
normally might look different when viewed through these glasses.

Raph suggests some industrial applications, such as mixing paints that
have to match under a wide range of lighting conditions. But it would
seem that it could be an easy way to experiment with improving sensory
discrimination for those who want to expand their mental powers.

(I have noticed that my two eyes perceive colors slightly differently.
It is only apparent if I alternately close my two eyes. One sees
things in a more "yellow", warm tone and the other is more grayish.
These differences are too subtle though to provide any real enhancement.)

Unfortunately these glasses don't seem to fit into Raph's giveaway
because they couldn't be used in an open source software project. But we
still might get some ideas for other enhancements along these lines.
And perhaps it would not be too terrible to try some small scale
experiments with Raph's idea to see what it would be like.


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