A lucky few have perfect pitch; some will actually get annoyed if two people in a conversation talk in voices a semitone apart. Others have a natural talent for logic puzzles, and a couple are brilliant at colors.
Guessing at a color by eye alone is much more difficult than you might think: ambient lighting, neighboring shades, and more can easily throw you off. Don’t believe me? Try finding a wall or car body that seems to be painted pure white, then hold a sheet of bleached printer paper next to it. Hey, presto: two distinct yet apparently perfect whites!
In much the same way, trying to imagine how a room will look when painted the same color as an inch-long card is pretty much a hit-or-miss affair. If you’re planning on doing some painting, the best solution is really to go scout for your preferred colors in their natural habitat.
If you’re an interior decorator or product designer, having this ability is sure to augment your existing skill set. Need to touch up some walls after remodeling without repainting the entire room? You might find that color swathes and plaster reflect light a little differently, which may turn out to be embarrassing, expensive, or both.
With this little gadget, you can use your smartphone to match an existing color to one of 28,000 commercially available paint colors. You can also record a reading in CMYK, HEX, or RGB formats (digital photographers will understand what these mean). It’s feather-light; small and tough enough to hook onto your keychain, which might make a great conversation starter.
Like so many great ideas, though, it’s not quite perfect. If you scan an older, discolored paint job or a natural color, you will probably get a reasonably close but still noticeably different match. The nice-looking polygonal body is designed to shut out all light to make readings more accurate, but this obviously isn’t going to work perfectly on textured surfaces.
So, considering what it costs, this is a cute and very handy doohickey if you’re planning to use it professionally, and will probably end up saving you a lot of time. If, however, you want something only for a one-time job and aren’t willing to take some time to learn about its quirks, you’re be better off guessing the color yourself.