Possibilities in Affordable Color Measurement

From fan decks and paint chips to smartphone cameras and virtual painting apps, a multitude of color matching methods exist. Our State of Color Measurement series unpacks how the industry is changing, discusses the best tool out there, and uncovers where color measurement is going.

How Far Can Affordable Color Communication Go?


Accurate, intelligent color communication is no longer reserved for color scientists, industry giants, and the sales associates who work the paint counter at your local hardware store. Now more than ever, color measurement and communication is achievable with devices that easily fit in your pocket and cost less than $200.


However, when it comes to affordability in color communication, it’s important to note the large instrumental differences that divide affordable consumer colorimeters, and highly accurate but larger-than-life spectrophotometers with price ranges well into thousands of dollars.


Currently, the larger consumer market is being served low-cost colorimeters, which are excellent for measuring color on solid surfaces and producing the best match to paint or other products. But the demands of the market grow every day–as consumers and color professionals alike desire further capabilities (such as?) and even higher accuracy rates. It doesn’t help that the only instruments that can measure at these desired accuracy rates cost well into the thousands of dollars and only exist on the production floors, in the labs, and behind the counters of the retail and color coatings giants that can pay for them.


At Variable, we believe that color measurement and communication cannot be considered affordable until the price of spectrophotometers–not colorimeters–can be brought as low as $200-$300.


Affordable Color Measurement Will Change the Industry


As soon as a truly affordable spectrophotometer exists, we’ll see important and needed shifts in the industry including:


  •  total color assurance across industries, from design to manufacturing to retail.
  • instant and exact color formulation that can reach all the way to point-of-use in addition to traditional point-of-sale color formulation.
  • using a trusted color measurement device we can achieve increased consumer satisfaction with a color scan, match, buy process in a mobile phone platform.
  • color communication will become more seamless and require less technical knowledge of color science


Affordable spectrophotometers will open up new applications, and perhaps even new and more efficient processes for corporations who largely rely on expensive, high maintenance instruments to perfect their QC processes.