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Would it be possible to develop oculars that would enhance the vibrancy of color? I know there are many digital filters to improve vibrancy, but are there physical devices able to produce the same effect? Would it ever be physically possible to produce a device small enough to be worn like a contact lens?

This is quetion I developed while watching a Korean drama as I noticed the contrasting colors compared to the shows I normally watched. I feel environment and perception play a big part in emotional well-being. It is my thought that a device with this capability might serve as an aid to better emotional health.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes. Put a tiny drop of LSD in your contact lens solution. $\endgroup$ – Brandon Enright Nov 19 '13 at 3:42
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I'll assume that "enhance the vibrancy of colour" means something like turning up the saturation in a photo editing application. I think it's highly unlikely that this could be accomplished using analogue optics, because it's a highly nonlinear operation. This is because we need to block or let through light in three different frequency ranges (red, green and blue) by an amount that depends on the amount of light of other frequencies that's also hitting the filter.

For example, suppose there is a small amount of blue light hitting one part of the filter. If this is the only light hitting it then it will be perceived as a dark but vibrant blue and we should let as much through as possible. However, if there is also a larger amount of red and green light hitting the filter then the blue light is merely diluting the saturation of a yellow shade, making it appear greyish, and we should block some of the blue light while letting the other frequencies through. This sort of thing would need to happen reliably across a very wide range of light intensities. While materials that have non-linear effects on the frequency of light do exist, creating something with properties this specific is probably impossible.

Of course, it is possible to enhance the saturation of an image digitally, so could we do that in something the size of a contact lens? I strongly suspect this is also impossible, for a few different reasons. It's certainly far beyond the reach of modern technology.

The first reason is the miniaturisation of the screen. It would have to have an enormous resolution, a dynamic range (difference between the lowest and highest intensities it can emit) many orders of magnitude higher than any currently available display, and draw an incredibly tiny amount of power.

The second reason is the camera. Not just because of the resolution, sensitivity and size of the sensor, but also because the distance between this camera's lens and its sensor would have to be less than a millimetre, and I don't think there's any trick that would allow a sharp image to be produced under such circumstances.

Finally, the eye can't focus on something that's attached to its surface, so the screen would somehow have to emit parallel rays of light, rather than emitting light in all directions like a normal screen. I don't know whether this is possible for such a small device, but I suspect not.

So unfortunately the answer to your question is, this certainly won't be possible in the near future, and it probably never will.

On the other hand, if you don't mind wearing goggles then it's possible with current technology: you just need a virtual reality helmet with cameras on the front. I have tried such a device, and it's surprising how much it feels like you're not looking through a screen.

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I think it is impossible until active optical media created. Lens you desire should process the passing light according to some algorithms. So, lens should absorb light, analyze it, and then re-emit in the same direction but with other color. This lens will consume power.

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  • $\begingroup$ In principle nonlinear optics like frequency doublers don't require power but getting them to do useful things at visual frequencies could be hard. $\endgroup$ – Brandon Enright Nov 19 '13 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ I guess non-linear optics without a power will be limited, because it should use the power of incoming light, which may be insufficient for given algorithm. For example, suppose we want just to increase luminosity in uniform way. $\endgroup$ – Suzan Cioc Nov 20 '13 at 8:54
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Well, it would seem that you are interested in creating some false color perspective; for some reason you don't explain.

The very familiar "color triangle", whether the original 1932 version or the later 1960s revision, is the very best experimentally derived representation of the complete range of hues that are distinguishable by the average normal human eye, resulting from many years of ingenious testing to try and represent, a composite of what each person can only see for himself, what his(er) idea of color is.

So now we move to the modern marvels of display technology, such as LED backlit LCD displays for TV or Computer monitors, where we get a rude awakening. Such devices are NOT capable of replicating ALL of the full range of hues, that the AVERAGE human eye can perceive; which is what the color triangle represents. Up until recently, they were abysmally poor in replicating greens, and were short in the range of reds.

Newer TV screens from the likes of Sony Corp, and others, and the emergence of OLED active displays, have greatly pushed the borders in the green region and extended the red range to longer wavelengths, and the results are quite dramatic.

But plotted on the color triangle, there is still more hue range to be obtained, than these newer displays, have picked up over the older technology.

So we are faced with the simple observation, that the best available color display technology, can only represent a portion of the average human perceivable color range.

So now, starting with your eyes; presumed here to be normal, just what are you proposing to do to "enhance", what we currently have NO capability of replicating accurately??

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  • $\begingroup$ What I mean by "improve vibrancy" is to increases the intensity of more muted colors and leaves the already well-saturated colors alone. It’s sort of like fill light, but for colors. I also don't intend the use of a display or the replication of light, but rather the manipulation of light before it enters the eye, functioning similarly to the EnChroma.com glasses. $\endgroup$ – roydukkey Nov 19 '13 at 5:45

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