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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Here Comes An Open Source Display Colorimeter
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Here Comes An Open Source Display Colorimeter!

Software developer and electrical engineer Richard Hughes has announced the development of ColorHug, an open source colorimeter for measuring the colours displayed on a screen and creating a colour profile.

Here is some good news for designers and publishers who rely on proprietary colorimeters to calibrate their displays. Developer Richard Hughes has developed an open source colorimeter called ColorHug, which allows you to calibrate your screen for accurate colour matching.

Hughes started working on colour management in Linux two years ago. As "existing hardware is proprietary and 100 per cent closed", he decided to create the device with an aim to make colour management accessible to end users. The ColorHug is a 32mm x 43mm x 21mm device, and works only with LCD and LED displays. "My hardware has a GPL bootloader, GPL firmware image and GPL hardware schematics and PCBs. It's faster than the proprietary hardware, and more importantly a lot cheaper," quips Hughes.

The ColorHug takes 80 seconds to take several hundred measurements and create an ICC colour profile, which can be read by other operating systems, while its nearest-priced proprietary competitor takes five minutes.

How it works
The Colorhug contains a colour sensor with 9 pixels, 3 red, 3 blue and 3 green. Each different colour sensor effectively counts photons, and so by counting the number of photons there are for each sensor we can work out the true colour shown on the screen. This photon count is converted to an XYZ colour value by the processor on the ColorHug and the set of measurements can be processed into an ICC file. The colorhug takes just 16 seconds to sample 400 colours and performs an order of magnitude faster than its competitors.

There are no Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX drivers included with this product. You can use the LiveCD sent with the device on any modern PC or use the built in software available in Fedora 16 or newer. The display.icc file can then be saved and used with Linux, Mac or even Windows.

Hughski Limited (Hughes' company) is selling the device, with software and USB cable, for £60. "Making hardware does cost money, and I can't give the hardware away for free like I do my other software. I'm aiming to do an initial production run of 50 units, but I'm going to need some advanced orders just to make sure I don't get stuck with a lot of stock and no buyers. I'm offering a 20 per cent discount on each unit, on the assumption the first users will be testing the firmware and reporting problems. If you want to support a cool open source project, I'm asking £48 for each unit, plus postage and packaging. There's a whole website http://www.hughski.com/ if you want to know more about the project, and there's even a newsletter if you don't need hardware, but want to know how we're getting on," explains Hughes.
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