University of East Anglia (UEA) spin-out Spectral Edge has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise £100,000 ($150,000) to develop of an ingenious new adaptor that allows colour-blind people to more clearly distinguish red and green when watching TV, videos, or playing games.

The invention, called Eye2TV, is an over-sized USB-powered dongle that sits between an HDMI port of a TV or monitor and video sources such as DVD, games consoles and set-top boxes.   

Image: Spectral Edge
Image: Spectral Edge

Using a patented algorithm developed by the University’s School of Computer Sciences, the Eye2TV analyses video frame by frame to make red and green more distinguishable from one another. The startup claims that the effect is subtle enough that non colour-blind viewers won’t notice any change.

Because the extend of colour blindness varies from person to person, the effect can be adjusted using a remote control although the firm has plans for an Android and iOS app that will do the same thing using a smartphone.

“The inability to enjoy watching TV or to play video games alongside friends and family is a major frustration to those suffering from colour-blindness, significantly impacting their quality of life,” said Spectral Edge’s managing director, Christopher Cytera.

“Our image enhancement technology is proven to solve this major accessibility issue, and the Eye2TV adapter is poised to transform how colour-blind people, and their families, watch TV and video content.

“By launching the project on Kickstarter we can accelerate bringing our technology to the consumer electronics market, giving those with colour-blindness the chance to become early adopters and improve their viewing experience,” he said.

Spectral Edge quotes figures that suggest around 4 percent of the global population suffers from colour blindness to some degree, mostly men but a few women too.

The company uses the example of a Champions League football match between Liverpool and Ludogorets from 2014 that featured teams playing in red and green strips. This clash of colours would have made it impossible for many colour viewers to distinguish opposing teams.

The importance of colour extended to other types of content including video games, the firm said.

Launched this week, the Kickstarter campaign has until 13 June to raise its goal of £100,000 ($150,000) in seed funding. That will allow the firm to turn its prototype into a production unit to ship by March 2016.

Despite the ambitious target, backers will be able to get hold of a single unit, one remote control and the promised mobile smartphone app for £50.