Posts Tagged ‘color’

O2Amp moves into lighting

O2Amp moves into lighting, for medical and everyday spaces. Bathe the whole space -- no eyewear needed.

O2Amp moves into lighting for medical and everyday spaces. Bathe the whole space — no eyewear needed.

At O2Amp we have patented optical filter technology specifically designed for helping us see people better. Last year we began producing eyewear for applications in medicine. We have had great reactions (see near the end of this story), and O2Amp was listed among the “Top Seven Health Innovations of 2012”.

We at O2Amp have now begun moving into lighting, because all the same perceptual enhancement occurs by bathing an entire room in the filtered light — no eyewear needed. The photo above is our first “O2Lamp” prototype.

There are two broad markets we’re working hard to move into: medical and everyday lighting.


  1. General lighting for hospitals and ambulances: One of our three technologies (the Oxy-Amp) enhances perception of variations of oxygenation under the skin, providing a strict improvement to a clinician’s ability to assess, diagnose, and treat a patient. The filter cuts very little light out of the illuminant, provides the warm and human-friendly lighting expected for patient satisfaction, but has the tremendous benefit of aiding doctors, nurses and emergency personnel at perceiving the patient’s health.
  2. Specialized lighting for procedures: The three distinct O2Amp technologies (Oxy-Amp, Oxy-Iso, Hemo-Iso) provide distinct clinical viewing benefits, and we are in conversations with lighting companies to get the technologies in special-purpose lighting for surgeries and other procedures. One way to describe the technology is this: ambient near-surface passive medical imaging.
  3. Skin examination: Although O2Amp technology is designed for amplifying perception of blood under the skin, as a consequence the skin itself becomes more transparent, and easier to assess. (…akin to holding up a piece of parchment to a light, and only then being able to see the subtle variations in the parchment.) Here there are applications for dermatology, as well as for cosmeticians.


  1. Truly warm lighting: People perceive bluer white lights to be “cool”, and redder white lights to be “warm.” One of the principal reasons for this is that the redder lights help make the blood more visible in the skin of those around you — it amplifies the “warmth” from other people. Our O2Amp filter technology enhances these blood signals directly, and can be added to any white light, even blue-ish ones. Warmth isn’t just for red any more.
  2. Cosmetic lighting: Younger skin tends to be more transparent, with well-perfused underlying flesh. Because the O2Amp (the Oxy-Amp in particular) amplifies the visibility of the underlying blood, the result is that skin appears more transparent, and the flesh underlying it more perfused. …mimicking the traits found in more youthful skin. Skin looks younger and healthier under Oxy-Amp lighting, something useful in any everyday setting, but potentially especially so in clothing stores.


Mark Changizi is Director of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man and The Vision Revolution. He is finishing up his new book, HUMAN 3.0, a novel about our human future, and working on his next non-fiction book, FORCE OF EMOTION.

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I’m proud to announce that the O2Amp was listed as one of the
top seven health innovations of 2012 by Healthy Black Men Magazine. More about the O2Amp.

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The O2Amp amplifies perception of emotions, moods and health. Really.

One of the “7 Major Health Innovations of 2012 that Matter”.

And, no, they’re not merely tinted glasses. …gray (non-pink) versions coming soon.

O2Amps by 2AI

As seen in TIME Magazine, Technology Review, and WIRED, the world’s first eyewear designed to enhance the visibility of blood beneath the skin, giving doctors, nurses and other medical personnel a clearer view of vasculature, oxygenation, and trauma.

The O2Amp furnishes superior powers of clinical assessment and diagnosis, better visualizations for procedures and blood work, and is a central piece of medicine’s next-generation toolkit. Eye protection, but with an enhanced perception of health.

Comfortably wear it all day, or quickly pull it out as needed, whether it’s emergency medicine, surgery, dermatology, neonatology or elsewhere.

“It looks like my vision is compensated with Photoshop,” says neurosurgeon Dr. Kei Nomura, Chief of Center for Brain and Spine Surgery, Aoyama General Hospital.

We at 2AI Labs are excited to have our first spin-off company, O2Amps, the home of our patented eyewear and light filtering technology that amplifies one’s view of the emotions and health visible in the color and pallor of other people’s skin.

The technology comes out of my research while at Caltech on the evolution of color vision in primates, where I provided evidence that color vision evolved to sense oxygenation modulations in the hemoglobin under the skin. Once one understands the connection between our color vision and blood physiology, it’s possible to build filters that further amplify our perception of the blood and the signals it provides (a patented invention by myself and my co-director, Tim Barber).


Because color vision evolved for everyday wear, so to speak, one of our largest markets is for everyday-wear sunglasses, to enhance one’s perception of the emotion, mood and health signals we evolved to detect with our color vision. For example, typical sunglasses shade the world but also end up shading one’s connections to other people; this is exemplified by the way people tip up their sunglasses to get a better look at someone. Our technology shades the world but not the social; for the O2Amps, one sees other people better by keeping them on, rather than tipping them up.

There are also applications in security, sports, poker, and dating. (See projects in development.)

And there are applications in medicine, which is where we believe we can make the greatest impact. In fact, for medicine we have developed three different technologies, and they can be described as…

— (i) Oxy-Iso: An oxygenation-isolator that amplifies perception of oxygenation modulations under the skin (and eliminates perception of variations in the concentration of hemoglobin),

— (ii) Hemo-Iso: A trauma-detector, or hemoglobin-concentration-isolator, that amplifies perception of hemoglobin concentrations under the skin (and eliminates perception of variations in oxygenation), and

— (iii) Oxy-Amp: A general clinical enhancer, or oxygenation-amplifier, that combines the best features of the first two; it eliminates neither signal (i.e., it retains perception of both variation in hemoglobin oxygenation and concentration), and only amplifies perception of oxygenation. It provides a strict enhancement to exactly the thing primate color vision evolved to sense.

We’ve received great interest from medical professionals interested in trying out the O2Amp, and we’re moving now to get them in hospitals and among clinical staff everywhere.

We’re also moving into lighting, where entire spaces can be filled with the same filtered light. …no eyewear needed.

We believe our Oxy-Amp is the new starting point for lens blanks.

Colorblind folk have found that the Oxy-Iso provides a big help for their red-green blindness.

See the O2Amp site for all our projects in development.

Note that good light is needed for the technology, by which we mean outdoor lighting or a head lamp.

Some useful links:
– The start-up for this technology… o2amp.com
Video from Daily Planet television show, Discovery Channel.
ABC News’ This Could Be Big Television.
– Introductory video (by filmmaker Emon Hasson)… Intro video
– Some testimonials… Testimonials
More testimonials
– What one sees… Illustration, Description
– Train yourself… in five steps (text only version).
– The research article on the evolution of color vision… Journal article

Some of the press interest in o2amp.com:
MSNBC, Sciencebase, Tech Rev, Betabeat, PopSci, ExameInformatica, Smithsonian, LiveScience/Yahoo, WIRED, NZ Herald, Investors, DesignBoom, Mobiledia, Discovery, PSFK, Neoteo, Earthsky, Good, Wissenundkonzepte, Stuff, Forbes, Actualidad, Geek, Gizmodo, PSFK, Neatorama, TIME, Oprah, BBC, DarkDaily; Lost At E Minor, ZenniOptical. Prevention Magazine, Scientific American / Txchnologist, Slashdot, Diffusion Radio, io9, The Times UK [subscription], BBC, Discovery News, Daily Mail UK, New Scientist, Smart Planet, CBC, Unexplained Mysteries, Telegraph, Voice of Russia, Geek Chic Mama, NY Daily News, GizMag, The Argus, Elite Daily, Columbia Chronicle, Under the Gun, Today, PopSci,
ABC News’ This Could Be Big.

Also, listed as one of the “7 Major Health Innovations of 2012 that Matter”.


Mark Changizi is Director of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man and The Vision Revolution. He is finishing up his new book, HUMAN 3.0, a novel about our human future.

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EarthSky interviewed me in late 2010 about my book, The Vision Revolution, and the segment about the evolution of bare skin and color vision was the second most popular interview in that year. Hear the interview yourself here.


Mark Changizi is Director of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella Books) and the upcoming book Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man (Benbella Books). He is working on his fourth book at the moment, tentatively titled Making Faces, about emotions and facial expressions.

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How do we know that your ‘red’ looks the same as my ‘red’? For all we know, your ‘red’ looks like my ‘blue’. In fact, for all we know your ‘red’ looks nothing like any of my colors at all! If colors are just internal labels, then as long as everything gets labeled, why should your brain and my brain use the same labels?

Richard Dawkins recently wrote a nice little piece on color, and along the way he asked these questions.

He also noted that not only can color labels differ in your and my brain, but perhaps the same color labels could be used in non-visual modalities of other animals. Bats, he notes, use audition for their spatial sense, and perhaps furry moths are heard as red, and leathery locusts as blue. Similarly, rhinoceroses may use olfaction for their spatial sense, and could perceive water as orange and rival male markings as gray.

However, I would suggest that most discussions of rearrangements of color qualia severely underestimate how much structure comes along with our color perceptions. Once one more fully appreciates the degree to which color qualia are linked to one another and to non-color qualia, it becomes much less plausible to single color qualia out as especially permutable.

Few of us, for example, would find it plausible to imagine that others might perceive music differently, e.g,. with pitch and loudness swapped, so that melody to them sounds like loudness modulations to me, and vice versa. Few of us would find it plausible to imagine that some other brain might perceive ‘up’ (in one’s visual field) and ‘down’ as reversed. And it is not quite so compelling to imagine that one might perceive the depth of something as the timbre of an instrument, and vice versa. And so on.

Unlike color qualia, most alternative possible qualia rearrangements do not seem plausible. Why is that? Why is color the butt of nearly all the “inverted-spectra” arguments?

The difference is that these other qualia seem to be more than just mere labels that can be permuted willy nilly. Instead, these other qualia are deeply interconnected with hosts of other aspects of our perceptions. They are part of a complex structured network of qualia, and permuting just one small part of the network destroys the original shape and structure of the network – and when the network’s shape and structure is radically changed, the original meanings of the perceptions (and the qualia) within it are obliterated.

The reason other qualia seem to be more than mere labels is that most of them have clear meanings and functions. We know what they’re for, and how they plug in to the rest of our network of qualia. For color, on the other hand, we have historically been largely blind to what colors are for, and how they functionally integrate with the rest of our perception. In the absence of knowing how to plug colors in to the rest of our qualia, they do seem much more rearrangeable.

But we’re beginning to know more about what colors are for, and as we learn more, color qualia are becoming more and more like other qualia in their non-permutability. Let’s see why.

First, even before describing some of the new insights on color vision, I note that most conversations about color qualia don’t seem to account for what has long been known about colors. Colors are not a set of distinct crayons with no connections to one another. Instead, colors are part of a three dimensional space of colors, a space having certain well-known features. The space is spanned by a red-green axis, a yellow-blue axis, and a black-white axis. These three axes have opponent colors at opposite ends, and these extreme ends of the axes are pure or primary (i.e., not being built via a combination of other colors). All the colors we know of are a perceptual combination of these three axes. For example, burnt orange is built from roughly equal parts yellow and red, and is on the darker side of the black-white dimension.

To perceive colors like I do requires, at a minimum, having the same color space as I do. To perceive ‘red’ without having (its opposite) ‘green’ also as part of one’s color space is impossible, just as perceiving ‘light’ would be impossible without also having ‘dark’. And to perceive orange without having both red-green and yellow-blue axes is impossible, because orange is a perceptual mix of red and yellow.

And that’s just the bare beginnings of the structure of colors. Colors are not only intricately connected to one another in a space, but are linked to many other aspects of our mental life, including other sensory modalities (e.g., a “red sounding trumpet”) and emotions.

In fact, in my research I have provided evidence that our primate variety color vision evolved for seeing the color changes occurring on our faces and other naked spots. Our primate color vision is peculiar in its cone sensitivities (with the M and L cones having sensitivities that are uncomfortably close), but these peculiar cone sensitivities are just right for sensing the peculiar spectral modulations hemoglobin in the skin undergoes as the blood varies in oxygenation. Also, the naked-faced and naked-rumped primates are the ones with color vision; those primates without color vision have your typical mammalian furry face.

In essence, I have argued elsewhere that our color-vision eyes are oximeters like those found in hospital rooms, giving us the power to read off the emotions, moods and health of those around us.

On this new view of the origins of color vision, color is far from an arbitrary permutable labeling system. Our three-dimensional color space is steeped with links to emotions, moods, and physiological states, as well as potentially to behaviors. For example, purple regions within color space are not merely a perceptual mix of blue and red, but are also steeped in physiological, emotional and behavioral implications – in this case perhaps of a livid male ready to punch you.

Furthermore, these associations are not arbitrary or learned. Rather, these links from color to our broader mental life are part of the very meanings of color – they are what color vision evolved for.

The entirety of these links is, I submit, what determines the qualitative feel of the colors we see. If you and I largely share the same “perceptual network,” then we’ll have the same qualia. And if some other animal perceives some three-dimensional color space that differs radically in how it links to the other aspects of its mental life, then it won’t be like our color space. …its perceptions will be an orange of a different color.


This first appeared July 16, 2010, at Psychology Today.

Mark Changizi is Professor of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella Books) and the upcoming book Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man (Benbella Books).

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Nick Kurczewski recently interviewed me about the evolution of color vision. As you know, I believe it’s all about emotion, and skin.

And in our modern culture, we’re often displaying colors not on our naked skin as we’re “supposed” to, but on the artifacts we cover ourselves with, like our clothing.

…and our cars.

Nick Kurczewski’s story concerns car colors, and appeared here in Road and Track.


More information about my research on color vision can be found in my book, The Vision Revolution, and in these pieces.

Mark Changizi is Professor of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella Books) and the upcoming book Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man (Benbella Books).

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The press release just came out for my simple proposal for harnessing our color vision for better sensing clinical skin color changes of patients, along with some news stories, which can be linked here…

LA Times, Toronto Sun, Forbes, Times Union (and video), Troy Record, BoingBoing, AOL News, Times Colony, Diagnostic Imaging, Ratschlag24, Press Release, and my own SB piece. Also, here’s the paper itself.

This proposal for medicine is a corollary of my research on the evolution of color vision — it’s for seeing emotions and states on the skin of those around us — something you can read about in my book, The Vision Revolution. I have a variety of pieces on the research here.

And here’s a figure that helps summarize the “oximetry” point in the press release…

Mark Changizi is a professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella Books).

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