Fu Jiang recently completed his M.Sc. in Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and this fall begins studying for a Ph.D. in Color Science, also at RIT. Jiang grew up in Huaian, China and received his B.Sc. in Physics from the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology. This summer, he has been working with mentors in HP’s Print and 3D Lab, hoping to move the bar on our understanding of color perception at small scales. While in Palo Alto, Jiang is enjoying hiking and cycling, and appreciating the Bay Area’s good weather.
HP: Can you describe the research project you’re working on?
My project focuses on our perception of color differences in what we call “small features.” These are areas of color that represent less than 2 degrees of your field of view, which is roughly the size of your thumbnail when you hold your arm straight out in front of you. We know quite a lot about our ability to perceive color differences at a larger scale, but very little research has been done on our perception of color in areas of less than 2 degrees.
HP: What’s the main question you are asking?
There’s a certain point where the human visual system can no longer distinguish two very similar colors that are actually different. We’re interested in finding out where that threshold is for different people and for different sets of colors at this smaller scale. We call the threshold “JND”, which stands for “just noticeable difference.”
HP: How are you doing the research?
I’m designing a psychophysical experiment that asks people to evaluate color differences between two small squares of color on a display. We’ve already run a pilot test with a small set of expert subjects. These are people who have a background in color science. That has given us some parameters that we can use when performing tests with naïve subjects. We’re just starting those tests.
HP: Any results yet?
Yes, we have already found some differences between our data and the results from published experiments where people were shown larger color patches. It suggests that human perception of color at smaller scales may well not conform to the current commonly used color difference models.
HP: How could that impact HP’s work?
If the results hold up, we’ll have a better understanding of the point at which most people can tell the difference between two small patches of color – and that should provide data that we can use to for the design and optimization of our color pipelines for 3D Printing.
HP: What has particularly struck you about working at HP Labs?
I’m surprised how flexible the schedule is – that I can work whatever hours I need to get the job done. Plus we have access to the latest equipment, like light booths and 3D printers that you don’t find in all university labs. It’s also really easy to arrange to meet with my supervisor when I need to and it’s been great to be able to talk with people who know so much about how the industry works and to learn about what they are interested in.