Color Teller


Talking color indentification device endorsed by Stevie Wonder.

The Challenge

Develop a portable, simple to use device that can quickly and accurately identify colors for visually impaired individuals.

The Solution

Combine a digital camera with interpretation software and an innovative audio interface to announce color.



Tough Design Challenges

Simple design esthetics and ease of use, providing audio color identification for the blind.


Competitive Advantage

A professional and reliable product provided a new level of convenience and empowerment to this market segment.

Electronics Integration

A creative blend of electronics, software, and design was developed after extensive product and user testing.

Supplier Selection

Low volume requirements required contract manufacturers who could provide inexpensive pilot built/testing solutions.


Brytech sought out Design 1st to work as an extended arm of their internal electronics team. The goal of the engagement was to provide a more professional color identifying product for the visually impaired. Selection of the right two shoe colors, matching shirt and tie enable a new confidence level for this user group.

A user study was carried out to determine the size, shape, use, carry and maintenance preferences of this user group. Surprising results were achieved after testing 5 different prototypes to allow the users to give detailed feedback on their tactile, audio and privacy needs.

"The user experience team collected feedback which allowed fast idea generation and prototyping"
exploded view
"Target shape and size from user study was achieved with only minor variations"


Handheld products are challenging. The design included a creative battery door for ease of entry by the visually impaired, a tether attachment, simple assembly and low manufacturing costs. Placing the product camera window flat against a surface is not easy when the user cannot see what they are doing and what orientation the product is in relative to the surface. A light compensation technique was developed, and hand positioning while holding the product allowed user to use their fingers to feel their orientation.



Prototypes of the unit led to software calibration and refinement for accurate color recognition. Fabrics are not a solid color, in fact they can be dozens of colors all blended together so color determination is done from a very large reference library. The measurement area is under 10 square millimeters and fabrics and clothing materials can vary quite a bit over a large surface, so several rounds of testing were performed to ensure accuracy.

"Getting fabric color right in an uncontrolled lighting environment is tricky"
"Simple, easy to assemble design led to high consistency in product reliability"


The specialization and lower volume requirements of this product meant that Design 1st had to locate suitable contract manufacturers that could provide inexpensive solutions for pilot build/testing and manufacturing. The Manufacturing Support team at Design 1st made this possible by working with partners overseas to keep costs down with the smaller production numbers.

"The Design 1st team provided world class design to a niche assistive care market I have developed product for over the last 35 years "
-Earl Bryenton, Founder Brytech

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