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A device called a color identifier is helpful for individuals who are blind, have low vision or have color vision impairment. When placed on a surface, the color identifier recognizes the color and announces its name. The device, also known as a color analyzer or recognizer, can announce the shades and tints of a color as well, such as dark brown, blue-green or pale pink. It works by interpreting saturation, hue and lightness to determine the correct color.
The devices can be used on various surfaces, including paper, cloth, wood, or plastic, and also on natural objects. Variations of identifiers exist. Color Teller and Color Talk are two specific branded identifiers. Most have an adjustable volume and are battery operated, some use AAA batteries, others use 9-volt, rechargeable or long life versions.
Options include earphones and the availability of multiple languages. Most devices are operated with a single button and some have a hold option that allows the user to lock in the color name while raising the device to his or her ear. The identifier may have an auto shutoff feature and talking battery status.
A color identifier is designed to be portable. They are small in size, light in weight and intended to be ergonomic for use with either the right or left hand. The size and shape of the identifier can vary from resembling a cell phone to resembling a television remote control.
Many devices come with a neck strap, belt clip, wrist strap or carrying case. Some contain extra features such as a talking clock, thermometer, games, calendar and/or timer. Operating instructions are usually provided in methods such as cassette tape, large print or CD so as to be suitable for those who are visually impaired.
Many versions have setting selections to set preferences on what type of information is be determined, for example common color names such as slate gray or ocean blue or the universal color name such as blue, red, yellow. A color identifier can also determine the amount of specific content, such as blue, within another color. Color identifiers also determine levels of light, including bright, normal, dim and dark. The device can also detect artificial and natural light.
Software is available to add the features of an identifier to a camera-equipped mobile phone. This software works much the same as a color identifier. It also has the capability to determine a single color in a multi-colored object by announcing both color name and location within the object.
I think sighted people could also benefit from an electronic color identifier, too. Sometimes I find a shade of paint that I like on a wall somewhere, and it would be nice to have a way to identify the exact hue whenever I go to the paint store. I think it might have to have a larger database of color names, though. I can tell if something is in the "white" family of colors, but I can't always tell the difference between "eggshell" and "antique white". If a color identifier could be that discriminating, I think it would help homeowners immensely.
I met a blind man in New York City one time who sold newspapers and magazines from a street stall. I asked him how he could handle cash payments if he couldn't verify the bills. He said he uses a talking color identifier as a money identifier, too.
If someone tries to hand him a blank piece of paper or Monopoly money, he can usually tell it's fake by just feeling it. If it feels real, he run it under the color identifier and wait for the result. Real money reads a specific shade of green, and if he doesn't hear that color announced, he knows it's a fake bill.
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