This painter's favorite brush

About 10 years ago we painted our rooms for the first time. New paint finally brought more warmth to our first house. However I vividly remember how much I hated the process leading up to the first brush stroke hitting the walls.

I’m talking about the “process” of picking the paint color. Back then, and for many people even to this day, picking the color to paint a room means going to the store and bringing back several color samples.

One would hold up these cardboard strips, each with three or four patches of color in slightly different shades of a base color, against the wall to be painted. From that 2-inch sample color, we are supposed to make a decision that “Caribbean Cool” and not “Tropicana Cabana” is the shade of blue we want to paint an entire wall. Plus you have to imagine what “Caribbean Cool” would look like dried when eggshell, satin or flat is chosen. Like everyone else we finished painting but I couldn’t help but think whether we should’ve gone with satin instead of eggshell.

With this kind guessing game 10 years ago, you might think that I would shoot down the mere suggestion of repainting the rooms again this fall. Well, you guessed wrong! Although we foresee ourselves picking up the those color sample strips, we are not going to hold them up against the walls.

Rather, I will whip out my smartphone, take at least four pictures of each room, and download a virtual paint viewer app to my smartphone. Then one-by-one I will upload the pictures of a room, scan the barcode of the color we like from one of the samples and tap the wall in the picture so the app can “paint” the wall in the color we chose. Just like that, we will see how the room looks in the color and shade we picked before the first brush stroke. No more guessing how a color will look on a 20-foot wall from a 2-inch swatch.

This is one use of “augmented reality” or “AR” for short. Basically the picture of the room is the real world representation and the smartphone app overlays the color of your choosing so you see the whole wall painted in the selected color, shade and sheen.

Wikipedia defines AR as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are 'augmented' by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” In this case, the photo of a real wall is overlaid by computer graphics – the color of the paint – to show what the room will look like when the walls are painted in the chosen color.

This is yet another way to use tablets and smartphones in an innovative way, this time through the use of an app and built-in camera.

Tak Sato

Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As co-founder and strategist for the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, and founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 9, Issue 16, Posted 10:06 AM, 08.15.2017