How Does AmplifEye Work?

The Electromagnetic Spectrum
(from Chandra observatory)

What we humans call "visible light" is enough for us to see the colors in sunsets, forests, and oceans. But we see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum. A few people, like many insects and birds, can see some ultraviolet. Over 4% of us, like ferrets and deer, can't fully see red, blue, or green.

Technology, from X-rays to radio astronomy, helps us overcome our visual limitations. But only recently has technology reached the point where we can combine a camera, computer, and screen to make digital eyeglasses. This can bring colors to the color blind, and much more. Consider these pictures:


As seen with "normal"
human color vision

As seen with protanopia
(red-deficient color vision)

One possible AmplifEye
algorithm for protanopia

(Image from


The second picture shows how the first one looks to people with one kind of color blindness, protanopia, a deficiency in perceiving the color red. The third picture shows one of the myriad ways this picture can be displayed using AmplifEye technology. AmplifEye with this setting allows someone with protanopia to perceive red as a rainbow of swirling familiar colors. And it will do it not for just a single picture, but for the whole colorful world. The set of possible algorithms is virtually boundless, and we're just getting started. We've also built a crude simulation of some of how AmpifEye might add ultraviolet to human vision.

Electromagnetic waves encode information. Most people perceive red in the flowers because they have sensors in their eyes that directly perceive red. Protanopes eyes lack those sensors, so they ordinarily can't differentiate red from several other colors. But on the right, they can, because information from the red wavelenth has been re-encoded as varying hue over time. And suddenly, the protanope can "see" red. (Click here for a discussion of whether the word "see" is appropriate here.)