“The Chromatic Pyramid of Visibility”

Andrew Watson


Please LOG IN to view the video.

Date: April 21, 2021


A fundamental limit to human vision is our ability to sense variations in light intensity over space and time. These limits have been formalized in the spatio-temporal contrast sensitivity function, which is now a foundation of vision science. This function has also proven to be the foundation of much applied vision science, providing guidance on spatial and temporal resolution for modern imaging technology. The Pyramid of Visibility is a simplified model of the human spatio-temporal luminance contrast sensitivity function (Watson, Andrew B.; Ahumada, Albert J. 2016). It posits that log sensitivity is a linear function of spatial frequency, temporal frequency, and log mean luminance. It is valid only away from the spatiotemporal frequency origin. It has recently been extended to peripheral vision to define the Field of Contrast Sensitivity (Watson 2018). Though very useful in a range of applications, the pyramid would benefit from an extension to the chromatic domain. In this talk I will describe our efforts to develop this extension. Among the issues we address are the choice of color space, the definition of color contrast, and how to combine sensitivities among luminance and chromatic pyramids.
Watson, A. B. (2018). “The Field of View, the Field of Resolution, and the Field of Contrast Sensitivity.” Journal of Perceptual Imaging 1(1): 10505-10501-10505-10511.
Watson, A. B. and A. J. Ahumada (2016). “The pyramid of visibility.” Electronic Imaging 2016(16): 1-6.

Further Information:

Andrew B. Watson is the Chief Vision Scientist at Apple, Inc. where he leads the application of vision science to a broad range of Apple technologies, applications, devices and displays. Dr. Watson attended Columbia University and received a PhD in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. From 1982 to 2016 he was the Senior Scientist for Vision Research at NASA Ames Research Center in California. His research focuses on computational models of early vision and application of vision science to imaging technology.  In 2001, Watson founded the Journal of Vision, and served as Editor-in-Chief for 2001-2013 and 2018-2022. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, of the Society for Information Display. He is the recipient of several awards, including the H. Julian Allen Award from NASA, the Otto Schade Award from the Society for Information Display, the Special Recognition Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and the Holst Award from Philips Research and The Technical University of Eindhoven. In 2011, he received the Presidential Rank Award from the President of the United States.

Created: Thursday, April 22nd, 2021