In arguably the coziest laboratory on NIST’s campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland, fellow Yoshi Ohno and his colleagues make measurements on the white light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that illuminate dark spaces in so many of our modern world’s places.
Here in the NIST Spectrally Tunable Lighting Facility, Yoshi and team can adjust the properties of white LED light in a roomlike setting to study how people prefer to perceive color. When they illuminated a bowl of fruit, for example, subjects of their experiments chose the white light that produced higher color saturation (vividness) in the fruit over light closer to natural sunlight. Right now, the color-rendering standard used commercially actually penalizes the lights that participants preferred with lower scores.
With possible new standards for color preference in addition to the traditional standards for color fidelity (how close it is to sunlight), manufacturers can refine their products to match our tastes. You’ll literally see white LEDs in a whole new light.
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