Nov 1, 2007

Microsoft hopes scRGB will improve photo colors

Source: CNET
Written by Stephan Shankland

For a computer, dealing with color is just another math problem. And Microsoft wants to change the way your PC counts.

The company has developed a color space–a way to encode colors as numbers a computer can process–called scRGB. If the company succeeds in getting it to catch on, the technology could help add depth and richness to photos taken with digital cameras and viewed on a computer or TV screen.

Today’s cameras and computers usually employ a color space called sRGB, developed in the 1990s by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, that describes colors as a particular combination of red, green, and blue. But sRGB is limited both in the breadth of colors it can display and in the subtlety of the tonal shades that separate bright from dark, and scRGB is designed to lift those limits.

The sRGB goal was to make Web page colors more consistent from one computer to the next, and it succeeded at that, said Bill Crow, who has led Microsoft’s HD Photo effort to improve digital imagery and who has just been named group manager of the company’s Microsoft Live Labs Seadragon imaging effort. But it’s designed to match the performance only of decade-old CRT monitors, which fall short of the spectrum of hues that human eyes can distinguish and that newer monitors can display, he said.

“The challenge of sRGB is that it’s a subset of the total color space. We are discarding colors when we encode…into sRGB,” Crow said. “ScRGB would allow a richer saturated red value…than the sRGB limit for red.”

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