Toyo Ink Co., Ltd. has developed a new “dithering” function to ensure that the color combinations used in images on packaging or display materials, for instance, comply with color universal design (CUD) without visibly altering the coloration, as part of a joint industrial-academic project. Toyo Ink commenced distribution of UDing Dither software for Mac OS X equipped with this new function in June 2014, as an addition to the company’s existing UDing series of freely distributed CUD support tools.
Conventional CUD image processing involves identifying color combinations in the original image that would be difficult for people with color vision deficiency to distinguish due to their level of color vision (indistinguishable parts) and then altering the hue of the relevant parts. This produces CUD compatible images that can be distinguished by people with color vision deficiency. As this processing method involves altering color combinations in the original image however, there is a risk that graphic designers, clients and other concerned parties could be reluctant to take CUD compatibility on board. That has been one of the factors preventing CUD from taking off to date.
The newly developed dithering function is based on a unique concept that originated from collaboration with the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Tokyo University, Graduate School of Engineering (Professor Tamotsu Murakami). The dithering technique involves taking a color from an indistinguishable part of an image and producing two different colors, with slightly higher and lower levels of lightness. The indistinguishable part is then filled with these two colors in a pattern, such as checks or stripes (horizontal or vertical). The patterned combination of these two colors creates a mixed visual effect, so that the coloration appears the same as the original image. As people with color vision deficiency can recognize the pattern more emphatically, due to the difference in lightness, this makes it possible to produce a CUD compatible image.
Having added UDing Dither software to its existing series, as a new product combining the existing UDing Simulator CUD support tool with dithering functionality, Toyo Ink commenced free distribution of the new version in June 2014. This is expected to help promote CUD compatibility, by overcoming users’ reluctance to accept CUD.
As part of the company’s commitment to contributing to society through its business, Toyo Ink has been carrying out CUD research and development, and distributing application software free of charge, since 2004 and has continued to promote and raise awareness of CUD as a key component of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Toyo Ink will continue to provide support in the future too, in an effort to create a society in which everyone can effortlessly engage in color communication.