Wednesday, 26 August 2015

So ... what does it actually LOOK like when you wear a pair of EnChroma sunglasses?

That's a tricky question to answer, because when you think about it, you don't know what the world actually looks like through my eye's (or anyone else's), and I don't know how you perceive all the colours around you. The world looks "normal" to me, even though I perceive it differently to you.

I've been wearing the EnChroma sunglasses for a couple of days now, and the best overall description I can provide is to imagine turning the colour down on your TV or computer screen until it's black and white, and then bring it back up to 6/10 or 7/10 - that's sort of what the world looks to my unaided eye - the colours are all there, but they're all a bit muted and subdued.

(Actually, that's NOT how the world looks to me, but it's the best simulation I can think of!)

Now turn the colour back up to "normal" viewing (10/10), and then take it up to 11:

THAT'S roughly what the world looks like to me through EnChroma - everything becomes more saturated, and just "pops".

The effect is most noticeable on pastels and other unsaturated colours - they all become richer, denser and more saturated. If a particular shade has just a touch of red, or green or yellow, it will seemingly "boost" the colour to make it several shades "richer". You know how an external painted masonry wall will fade over time, and all your favourite shirts fade with multiple washes? It's like giving the wall a fresh coat of paint, or buying a new Hawaiian shirt.

Bright, saturated primary colours aren't affected nearly as much - but I can see most of them clearly anyway. Fire engines and mail boxes are still "signal red", the sky is still sky blue, Hi-Vis Safety Shirts are still canary yellow. But when you think about it, most of the colours in the world around us are a bit more subtle and muted than that, and it's these unsaturated colours which seem to get the strongest boost.

There were a few surprises as well:

Green traffic lights have always looked almost white to my eye, with only the slightest hint of colour - a bit like how "warm white" compact fluorescent bulbs look compared to the "cool white" ones - but now they are bright green. Also, for the first time ever, red traffic lights are brighter than amber traffic lights, whereas the amber has always been quite a bit brighter than the red to my eye.

The EnChroma lenses can give a strong green cast to some (but not all) digital displays – my SmartWatch and tablet are now green when they should be white (both have OLED screens), and there's an LED display board near my work which is now green, but my TV and phone look pretty normal (but a bit dark!), and as I sit at my computer typing this reply, the white is just white.

Interestingly, the blue LED status lights that you often see on electrical equipment seems to be a colour that my unaided eye sees very brightly, but the EnChroma lenses seem to block very strongly. I noticed it first on our TV Set-Top Box and a computer monitor at home, and also on the lift buttons at work. Even though the lift is well illuminated and I can see fine with the glasses on, the floor button back-lights almost disappear completely when I put the glasses on. I guess it depends on the exact colour spectrum of the RGB pixels - it would be interesting to see if this effect persists with the Cx-65 lenses, which are apparently optimised for digital screens and the like.

Drab greens and browns (I'm thinking of colours that you would probably describe as faded olive green or mission brown) become a LOT more dense, and therefore get quite a bit darker - again, it's a bit like over-painting a faded fence with new paint which is a couple of shades darker. I think these colours must lie pretty well in the red-green "notch" in the EnChroma transmission spectrum.

I suspect things like army camouflage would be pretty strongly affected by this - but I haven't seen any army vehicles or personnel since I got the EnChromas. (Or maybe I did, but they disappeared totally against a dark background?)

Anyway, that's enough of a report for now - I've got to get back outside to look at some more flower beds. (And look for that Jeep that I misplaced somewhere.)