Unitary suprathreshold color-difference metrics of legibility for CRT raster imagery

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This dissertation examined the relationships between color contrast and legibility for digital raster video imagery. CIE colorimetric components were combined into three-dimensional color coordinate systems whose coordinates map one-to-one with the physical energy parameters of all colors. The distance between any two colors' coordinates in these 3-spaces is termed Color-Difference (ΔE). ΔE was hypothesized as a metric of the speed (RS) with which observers possessing normal vision could accurately read random numeral strings of one color displayed against backgrounds of another color.

Two studies totaling 32064 practice and experimental trials were conducted. The first study determined that the CIE Uniform Color Spaces are inappropriate for the modeling of RS. Subsequently, a different 3-space geometry and colorimetric component scaling were empirically derived from the Study 1 data to produce a one-dimensional ΔE scale which ” approximates an interval scale of RS. This ΔE scale and others were then applied to the different stimulus conditions in Study 2 to determine the generalizability of such ΔE metrics.

The pair of studies is conclusive: several ΔE scales exist which serve equally well to describe or prescribe RS with multicolor CRT raster imagery for a range of character luminances in both positive and negative presentation polarities. These are the Y,u',v', logY,u',v', L*,u',v', and L*,u*,v* rescaled color spaces. Because of its predictive accuracy and simplicity, a luminance—generalized, ΔE—standardized Y,u',v' metric, accounting for 71% and 75% of the RS variability in Studies 1 and 2, respectively, is recommended as the most appropriate metric of emissive display legibility to be tested in these studies.