Measuring Instruments

Giving Shape to Ideas

Precise Color Communication

If we measure the color of the apple, we get the following results:

Various people in the past have devised methods, often using complex formulas, for quantifying color and expressing it numerically with the aim of making it possible for anyone to communicate colors more easily and more accurately. These methods attempt to provide a way of expressing colors numerically, in much the same way that we express length or weight. For example, in 1905 the American artist A. H. Munsell devised a method for expressing colors which utilized a great number of paper color chips classified according to their hue (Munsell Hue), lightness (Munsell Value), and saturation (Munsell Chroma) for visual comparison with a specimen color. Later, after a variety of further experiments, this system was updated to create the Munsell Renotation System, which is the Munsell system presently in use. In this system, any given color is expressed as a letter/number combination (H V/C) in terms of its hue (H), value (V), and chroma (C) as visually evaluated using the Munsell Color Charts. Other systems for expressing color numerically were developed by an international organization concerned with light and color, the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage (CIE). The two most widely known of these systems are the Yxy system, devised in 1931 based on the tristimulus values XYZ defined by CIE, and the L*a*b* system, devised in 1976 to provide more uniform color differences in relation to visual differences. Color spaces* such as these are now used throughout the world for color communication.

* Color space: Method for expressing the color of an object or a light source using some kind of notation, such as numbers.

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