Human Observers

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Human Observer Experiment

This is the final blog note article in our series describing the Visual Observing Situation Model in which we will discuss human observers. Previously we discussed how theilluminants and objects are quantified to help measure color.

In the human eye there are rods that are responsible for low light vision and cones that are responsible for color vision functioning at higher light levels. There are three types of cone sensitivities: red, green, and blue. To effectively quantify how the human eye sees color a standard observer (a table of numbers) must be derived.

To develop the standard observer a set of experiments were run to quantify the ability of the human eye to see color. These experiments had a person looking at a white screen through an aperture having a 2 degree field of view with half of the screen illuminated by a test light. The person then adjusted the amount of 3 primary colored lights on the other half of the screen until they matched the test light color. This process was repeated for all colors across the visual spectrum.

The experiments resulted in a x bar, y bar, and z bar function that became the CIE 1931 2˚ Standard Observer. These functions quantify the red, green, and blue cone sensitivity of the average human observer. After these initial experiments were conducted it was found that the cones are spread beyond the area in the eye they were believed to be concentrated. The experiments were re-done in 1964 resulting in the CIE 1964 10˚ Standard Observer.

These experiments provided a table of numbers that effectively quantifies how the human eye sees color and quantifies the last piece of the Visual Observing Situation model. With all three pieces of information the way color is perceived by human observers can now be quantified.

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