“Watching TV is actually a key pastime for people with impaired vision. It’s an activity that can be safely and conveniently enjoyed in the comfort of their homes.”
– Kyungah Park, M.D. (Department of Ophthalmology, Samsung Medical Center)
Samsung Electronics firmly believes in the power of technology to create a more inclusive world. When it comes to design, accessibility should be top of mind ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can fully enjoy the benefits of modern innovations. Traditional television can present challenges when accessing and comprehending visual content. However, through the use of visual aid features, Samsung is helping bridge the gap and providing an immersive and enjoyable viewing experience for all.
Relumino Mode, a viewing mode on select Samsung TVs, was designed to augment the visual capabilities of those with low vision, making it possible for anyone to engage with their favorite shows, movies and documentaries like never before. By highlighting specific parts of videos — such as contrast, color and sharpness — this feature makes it easier than ever to discern content on the TV screen.
To shed more light on this groundbreaking inclusive technology, Samsung Newsroom sat down with Dr. Kyungah Park and Jason (Jaeseong) Park from Visual Display Business, Samsung Electronics, to discuss everything from development to clinical trials.
Screens for All — Including People With Impaired Vision
Relumino, borrowed from Latin, means “to give back the light.” The idea is to restore vision as much as possible to people with impaired vision. Earlier this year at CES, Samsung introduced Relumino Mode on select Samsung TVs. This follows the wearable device “Relumino Glass” and the smartphone image processing software “Relumino App,” each revealed at CES in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Before that, Relumino was conceived in “C-Lab(Creative Lab),” Samsung Electronics’ in-house venture program. It has evolved and expanded ever since.
“For several years, ‘Screens for All’ has been one of the key mottos for us. We’re working to further enhance TV accessibility and promote inclusion,” said Jason Park, who plans products and services for the Visual Display Business. “People with low vision are still a key demographic that need better TV viewing experiences.”
Innovation Rooted in the User’s Perspective
To develop Relumino Mode, planners and engineers met with a number of advisors who had visual impairments to understand their wants and needs.
“There’s an early experience that really changed my perspective,” shared Jason. “When we first met an advisor for Relumino Mode, I asked him to ‘Please come here and have a seat’ to which he replied, ‘Where is here?’ That was a hard and clear wake-up call for me. I was so embarrassed.” It was then that Jason realized that they were exploring a totally new territory and would have to first understand the way their users see the world.
Despite the decades of collective experience in enhancing TV picture quality, this particular project presented a unique challenge that none of the engineers had encountered before. Typically, their expertise lay in identifying even the slightest imperfections on the screen, but now they had to understand what it’s like as a user to have impaired vision. In addition to consulting advisors, the engineers utilized special goggles that simulated blurry vision, serving as a starting point for their exploration. Through a process of generating ideas, conducting trials and learning from mistakes, they eventually developed a solution that could be considered a genuinely effective viewing mode.
Clinical Trials and Direct Feedback
After initial research and development came trials on a larger scale. This is where Samsung Electronics decided to collaborate with Samsung Medical Center, one of South Korea’s most comprehensive medical facilities.
“Clinical trials targeting people without disabilities are popular and recruiting subjects for these projects is relatively easy. Some even ask to join before we ask,” said Dr. Park. “But, that was not the case for the Relumino study. The pool was much more limited as we were more strict with our requirements — we targeted people who have lower vision than WHO’s vision impairment criteria.”
However, the people that Samsung contacted showed much passion for the project. “Many who joined the trials were very excited and didn’t mind traveling long distances for the study. Thanks to their support and encouragement, we were able to carry out the research,” Dr. Park added.
Four 55-inch Samsung QLED TVs were featured in the tests. One displayed the control image with no picture enhancements at all. The other three TVs showed the same content with Relumino Mode on high, medium and low. The TVs were installed on a meter away from each other onw a wall in a room with a specified amount of light.
The test was two-fold, with objective and subjective evaluations. A certified contrast sensitivity test was employed for the objective evaluation. For the subjective evaluations, participants were asked to examine a set of eight still images and two videos on each of the screens. Their satisfaction levels were measured on a scale of 0 to 10. Based on the results, researchers carried out additional interviews adjusting picture enhancement levels on the spot.
Relumino mode was well received by the group. One of the participants highly praised the technology, saying “I was thrilled to see the ball in a soccer match on screen. It can get frustrating if you can’t see the ball because of low vision, as you can imagine. Relumino Mode helped me see the ball clearly.”
“The subjects’ responses indicated the Mode’s subjective results while the contrast sensitivity testing showed its objective results. Both of these factors, combined, allowed us to find the optimal setting for a brilliant image on TV,” said Jason.
Screens for All, Today and Tomorrow
“While [the Relumino Mode] project focused on people with relatively severe visual impairment many people with slightly lighter symptoms still need help. I’d like to work on developing projects for them,” explained Dr. Park.
Jason shared a similar point of view, saying, “Samsung will continue to advance technology in the long term to provide personalized picture quality for people with vision impairment and let them enjoy TV comfortably.” Samsung remains committed to accessibility and strives to leverage its technologies to enable more people do what they enjoy.