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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P013694/1
Title: ColourSpecs: A Wearable Colour Identification System for People with Impaired Colour Vision
Principal Investigator: Flatla, Dr D R
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Computing
Organisation: University of Dundee
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 February 2017 Ends: 31 July 2018 Value (£): 100,861
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Computer Graphics & Visual. Human-Computer Interactions
Vision & Senses - ICT appl.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Dec 2016 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel Dec 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
RESEARCH CONTEXT

Impaired Colour Vision (ICV, colour vision deficiency, colour blindness) can be inherited or acquired. Inherited ICV affects 1/12 men and 1/200 women in the UK, affecting 2.7m people of all ages. Acquired ICV might affect as many as 2/3 of people over 65 years in the UK (6.9m).

ICV manifests as a reduced ability to discriminate between colours. Inherited ICV typically reduces the ability to differentiate between colours that differ only in their amounts of red or green (e.g., orange & green, blue & purple). Acquired ICV typically reduces blue-yellow discrimination (e.g., green & blue, red & purple).

Being unable to differentiate colours results in three key challenges for people with ICV:

1) Employment: People with ICV are prohibited from serving in the military, police and fire services, and from operating trains, boats, and aircraft. Many other careers can be difficult without accurate colour vision, e.g., graphic/web design, security, dentistry, meat inspection.

2) Health & Safety: Many medications are distinguished only by colour and people with ICV often have difficulty detecting a burn or rash. Likewise, it is challenging to see if meat is sufficiently cooked and to identify when food has gone 'off'.

3) Information Access: Data is increasingly presented using colour (e.g., weather reports, news articles, election coverage, website form warnings), reducing the accessibility of this information for people with ICV.

The implications of these challenges are far-reaching: occupations have a reduced pool of otherwise competitive potential recruits causing difficulties for recruiters and frustration for would-be recruits; people with ICV experience day-to-day challenges that threaten their health & safety and impede their ability to participate in the information society.

The dominant Assistive Technology (AT) for ICV for 20 years has been recolouring tools, which modify colours to make them more differentiable for people with ICV. However, recolouring tools often 1) create new colour problems, 2) destroy naturalness, and 3) prevent colour identification. These limitations arise from recolouring's central focus on colour differentiation, however the ICV challenges identified above all stem from the inability to identify colours. Colour identification is the key challenge for people with ICV.

AIMS & OBJECTIVES

Building on our 3*/4* CHI 2015 Best Paper (Flatla, et al., 2015), we will expand on the preliminary colour visualisation techniques presented there by defining a comprehensive colour-to-visual design space using participants with ICV. With our participants we will identify the best candidate mappings and implement them on a transparent Head-Mounted Display (HMD) to develop ColourSpecs, and compare it to competing techniques. To help educate the public on ICV and ColourSpecs, we will create visual art that encodes different messages for different colour vision abilities, and use ICV simulation software and ColourSpecs to allow attendees to experience different colour vision.

APPLICATIONS & BENEFITS

People with ICV in Dundee & Tayside will benefit from learning about existing and new technology available to help them, and will also benefit from gaining experience in describing their condition to help people with typical colour vision understand ICV.

We will commercialise our ColourSpecs prototype through our commercial partner since 2014, AmplifEye.Vision, who will share their prototype system with us, meet monthly to discuss commercialisation, and plan to fund 1-2 PhD students to work on projects separate from this proposal. Commercialising ColourSpecs will help people with ICV in the UK and worldwide by alleviating their day-to-day colour challenges and provide new AT for helping them pursue careers that require accurate colour vision.

In the future, we will extend our visualisation techniques to infrared and ultraviolet, with applications to medicine, crops, and security.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Impacts
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Summary
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Organisation Website: http://www.dundee.ac.uk