If ColorSay recognizes that VoiceOver is enabled on your device, the App assumes that it is utilized by a user with impaired vision and thus it will run in “VoiceOver-Mode“.
This guide is intended for users who would like to learn more about using the App in “VoiceOver-Mode”.
Notes on camera and lighting
ColorSay makes use of the built-in camera on the back of your iPhone, iPod or iPad for capturing the environment. When holding the device upright, with the home button being positioned at the bottom of the device, the camera is located in the upper right corner on the backside of the housing.
The models iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 also feature a torch light, which is installed right next to the camera. It can be used for improving the illumination within the camera’s field of view.
Please make sure that the camera is not fully or partially covered when using the App, because otherwise proper color recognition cannot be guaranteed. The device also must not be wrapped in a case that does not have an opening for the camera. There should be a minimum distance of at least a hand-wide (about 10cm) towards the object being examined.
In order to allow the camera to capture the surrounding colors properly, it is important that the objects or surfaces to be scanned are sufficiently illuminated. The lighting situation may also be improved by enabling the built-in torch light (if your device has this feature). Please be aware of the fact that this light has a limited range and is mainly useful to brighten up the immediate environment.
If you find that ColorSay mostly detects black or shades of gray, it might be that the examined area is not lit well enough.
In rapid succession, the camera will record digital images of the environment that is included in its field of vision. The App then examines each image regarding the colors contained therein. This process repeats about 20 to 30 times per second. As soon as the App determines that an appropriate result has been found, the recognized color will be issued via speech output.
Notes on color interpretation
The camera captures images of the environment and assesses the central part of each recording regarding its regular color impression. ColorSay knows several hundred names for common colors and will say the name of the color that is the best match according to the perception of the recognized color value.
There is an infinite number of color shades in nature and humans can actually perceive only a small part of those. In daily use, the distinction of color names is usually limited to a number of about 20 to 30 notions (like red, yellow, green, blue, etc.), although their subjective perception often varies greatly. According to their personal taste, different persons may also refer to a color from the yellowish spectrum either as “ocher” or as “orange”. The reason for this is that these colors might look very similar under certain circumstances and color names are usually not unambiguously defined.
If you are merely interested in the general label of a color, as it would be used in everyday life, then you should give the color sets “Basic” and “Extended” a try, which can be adjusted via the settings menu. The larger color sets offer a finer differentiation, but the color names in these sets are often comparative and mostly refer to the usual coloring of a real phenomenon (e.g. firebrick, slate gray, cornflower blue, etc.).
Notes on the user interface
After launching the app, in each of the four corners of the screen (i.e. the part of the device’s surface that responds to touches) is a button to control the App’s functions. The use of these controls is described in the following paragraphs.
Settings and Options
The settings menu can be reached via the button in the upper left corner of the screen. You will find several options, which allow you to influence the App’s behavior while interpreting the colors.
For example, if you would rather have ColorSay use VoiceOver’s regular speaker instead of the App’s custom speech processor, just activate the switch “Use VoiceOver” in the section labeled “Color Names”.
By enabling the feature “Interrupt VoiceOver” you may allow ColorSay to announce color names even if VoiceOver is already reading other labels at the same instance.
There are even more options available in the settings menu. These will affect the App according to the label of its corresponding button.
When tapping the button in the upper right corner, the built-in torch light can be turned on or off, but only if the device is equipped with such. The button’s label will be changed automatically to “turn light on” or “turn light off” according to the current state of the torch light.
By activating the touch area in the lower left corner, the App’s entire sound output can be temporarily disabled, which means that there will be no speech or tone generation. This switch does not affect the VoiceOver functions provided by the iOS accessibility features.
Point Mode and Area Mode
The button in the lower right corner allows toggling between Point Mode and Area Mode.
Even if an object theoretically has been tinted with a uniform color, the perceived color is not necessarily consistent due to the light conditions. For example, if the surface has wrinkles or is only partially illuminated, shadows may appear, which means that certain locations on the surface seem darker or lighter. Depending on the part of the object that is examined with the camera, the result might be a slightly different color interpretation.
In Point Mode, the color value is measured at a small spot in the center of the visual field. The announced color may already vary as soon as the device is moved slightly.
This mode is usually suitable for objects that are not too far away (for example a pen on the table right in front of you) and / or if a general color impression is sufficient, i.e. that it is not absolutely relevant if it is a darker, brighter or medium green.
In Area Mode, the dominant color within a larger range in the center of the camera’s field of view is determined. Hereby it is possible to compensate color fluctuations that occur along a surface.
However, if there are multiple objects with different coloring in the camera’s sight, their colors will be blended as the scanned image is evaluated. For example, mixing the colors yellow and blue will result in a greenish color effect.
If the Area Mode is enabled, the scan area may be resized by tapping an additional button, which is available in the center of the screen. Settings between approximately 16% and 100% are possible. Every time the resize button is tapped, the scan area grows a little and VoiceOver will announce the percentage of the new size. Once the surface has reached 100%, it will return to the lowest setting if the resize button is tapped again. The more space the object of interest occupies within the visual field, the larger the scan area’s size can be chosen.
This mode is useful for objects which might be a little farther away and / or have a larger spatial extend (for example a colored piece of paper in front of you or a shirt at a distance of about one meter).
Using a camera to analyze the environment certainly is not an easy task and most likely will need some practice at first. The quality of the color recognition depends on the technical capabilities of your iPhone or iPad, which is not to be understood as a device for compulsory color measurement that yields binding colors. When handled appropriately, ColorSay can report color tendencies of the objects in your environment and help you when dealing with colors in your everyday life.
Please mind the fact that using a camera is subject to the conditions as mentioned above. Light and color are physically interdependent, which means the color of a surface may only be recognized when it is reflecting enough light to be captured by the camera. Without light there is no color.
If you have any questions or suggestions for improving the functions of ColorSay, we would appreciate to hear from you!