A smartphone company and University of Leeds researchers aim to make digital photographs more accurately represent all skin tones.
Historically, say the researchers, there has been a bias with the calibration and rendering of smartphone photos towards lighter skin. As a result, people with darker skin can look overexposed or desaturated.
The six-month collaboration with mobile phone manufacturer TECNO will further improve technology to produce more true-to-life portraits.
The project is being led by Dr Kaida Xiao, Associate Professor in Colour and Imaging Science at Leeds’ School of Design, and the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour.
Our in-depth research on skin tone and colour science has spanned many years. It has placed great importance on inclusivity and diversity to uplift and celebrate the beauty of true skin tones.
Dr Xiao is already a technical advisor to the company because of the University’s extensive research in this area. He is also Technical Committee Chair of the International Commission on Illumination.
He said: “Our in-depth research on skin tone and colour science has spanned many years. It has placed great importance on inclusivity and diversity to uplift and celebrate the beauty of true skin tones.
“The University of Leeds and TECNO have aligned ambitions to advance technologies that enhance people’s experience of life and contribute to greater inclusivity.”
Jack Guo, General Manager at TECNO, said: “Our goal is to strengthen our technological capabilities in multi-skin imaging to better capture the essence of humanity in a way that represents everybody.
“The University of Leeds has gained recognition for this type of work in both academia and industry, and this makes them an invaluable partner. We both want to enhance the imaging experience for people whoever and wherever they are.”
The International Commission on Illumination – also known as the CIE from its French title, is an independent, non-profit organisation.
It exchanges information on matters relating to the art and science of light and lighting, colour and vision, photobiology and image technology.
The Commission has been accepted as the best authority on the subject and as such is also recognised by ISO as an international standardisation body.
Member countries include Great Britain, the US, Canada, China and other countries across Europe. The Technical Committee, established 10 years ago, has collected more than 10,000 pieces of skin spectral reflectance data in collaboration with universities in Spain, China, Thailand, Iraq, Pakistan, Brazil and more recently Tanzania.
Skin spectral reflectance data is important because generally darker-skinned individuals with more eumelanin in their skin reflect less visible light.
This data has informed Dr Xiao’s work in the field of camera technology. This kind of data is not only used in the graphic art industry – it is also used in the cosmetic industry and in medical diagnosis and applications.
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