CRI Inches Forward

November 1, 2015 in Color, Design, Light

The CIE’s Color Rendition Index (CRI) has long had several known weaknesses including outdated components of the calculations, a limited set of color samples, and standard reporting of only one piece of data (the average color distortion of the first eight colors, known as the General Color Rendering Index or Ra). After more than a decade of stalemate it seems that the IES’s TM-30 has convinced the CIE to make another attempt at updating CRI.

In a recently released position statement the CIE announced that the CRI technical committee (TC 1-90) has taken up the problem again and is expected to write a technical report on a new, improved color fidelity metric that can update CRI before the end of 2016. They will use TM-30 Rf as the basis for their work. Another committee, TC 1-91, will write a report on a color preference metric in the same time period.

This is both good and bad news. CRI is the international standard for measuring and reporting light source color rendering. It is long overdue for an update, and I’m glad to see the CIE working on it. On the downside, the press release makes it sound as though 1) parts of TM-30’s Rf may be incorporated, but the CRI fidelity metric will be a new creation 2) we may see the addition of a color preference metric but TM-30’s gamut metric Rg apparently isn’t being considered. The biggest reason that this is a concern is the amount of time it takes to create the work, gain internal consensus, approve the work, and gain organization approval – all of this before the work can be released to the larger lighting community for consideration. I think it is extremely optimistic to think that the two committees can write meaningful reports on these issues in only one year, especially given the difficulty they’ve had reaching consensus in the past.

I would much rather see the CIE committees study TM-30 and report on its strengths and weaknesses before deciding that it won’t work and they should start over. Adopting or modifying TM-30 can happen much quicker than developing one or more new metrics. TM-30 took three years to develop and the industry shouldn’t have to wait another three years for an updated metric that has the CIE’s approval.