In his keynote address to the Eighth Color Imaging Conference, Dr. Robert Hunt investigated the limitations of current display technology with an emphasis on how well it can be expected to represent product color on the World Wide Web. His conclusion was that for purchases where color was important, “the best safeguard is to ask for a swatch before placing an order.” While his analysis was compelling, we considered the topic a suitable launching point for discussion of a potential use for emerging reproduction technologies. Designed to maintain spectral integrity, some of these new approaches are now worthy of public demonstration. For discussion, a scenario is described where image files contain spectral data and are available for download from on-line vending sites. On a user’s computer the downloaded files may be spectrally color managed so that when printed on a local multi-ink printer, the result would be a virtual swatch. If successful, such a print would reflect a good approximation of the original sample spectra. Although some of the limitations described by Hunt would remain and some new ones would be introduced, if spectral color management were fast, cheap, widely available and accurate, there would be many situations in which Web consumers would be well prepared to make color-critical purchasing decisions without the use of factory-produced swatches. Contained in these proceedings are examples of spectral reproductions using a 6-ink printer juxtaposed with original fabric samples. The examples are crude, but point toward the potential of spectral reproduction. Discussion will follow examining why these renderings are both successful and unsuccessful.
Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit
Department, Program, or Center
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)
Rosen, Mitchell; Taplin, Lawrence; Imai, Francisco; and Berns, Roy, "Answering Hunt's web shopping challenge: spectral color management for a virtual swatch" (2001). Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus