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How to Use Your Smartphone To Detect Invisible Colours

Posted on June 13th, 2016

You might not know it, but there's a whole spectrum of colours floating around us that our eyes simply can't see. That's because our eyes can only detect specific wavelengths of light that we see in the shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Shorter or longer light waves (which exist outside the standard rainbow of colours) simply don't trigger our eyes' receptors, which means we can't see anything beyond red (known as infrared) or blue (known as ultraviolet).

In this regard, humans are a bit specialized, since there are a number of animals that can see wavelengths (and therefore colours) outside of our own. Bees for example, can see ultraviolet light, while snakes can actually see infrared light.

Fortunately, there's a ton of technology around us that can see these "invisible" light waves and colours, and in fact makes use of them every day without us seeing it.

Case in point: your remote control, a device which uses infrared light to transmit information to your TV set. If you were to point the remote at your eyes and press a button you wouldn't see anything (even though it's there). There is, however, a device that can see the infrared light: your smartphone.

Try this fun experiment. Turn on the camera on your phone. Next, grab your TV remote and point it at the camera. And just like that, on your smartphone screen you'll see the light that would otherwise be invisible to your naked eye.

That's because your smartphone camera is equipped with a number of receptors that allow it to "see" in the infrared spectrum. Each button you press on your remote will send different pulses of infrared light so your TV knows what to do.

Give it a try! It's a simple way to take a glimpse into the invisible world of light around us.


To learn more about how your eyes work (and make sure they're working in the best way possible) book an eye exam at an FYidoctors clinic near you.