Color-Helper from Color Savvy

If you’ve ever walked into the paint department at a retail store, you know the feeling of facing 2,000 little paint chips to find just the right color. You put your hand on your forehead and think, “Where do I begin?” Well, Color Savvy Systems Limited has created just the product to help remodelers out.

The February issue of Qualified Remodeler featured the Color-Helper. Developed specifically for home design and remodeling professionals, the Color-Helper is a hand-held device that utilizes digital technology and color science to instantly read and recommend the best color from a palette of nearly 18,000 shades from all major paint manufacturers. The Color-Helper comes in handy when a color sample can’t be taken to a store to be matched.

“One of the things that we discovered on our journey was that no matter who you are, picking color is a huge challenge,” says Gary Bodnar, CEO of Color Savvy. “We figured we could come up with a tool to help people pick color with the technology we have. We don’t pick the colors for them, but we help get them started.”

Color Savvy was started in 1995 in a garage, in Dayton, Ohio, by a Mead Paper employee. At that time, in the mid-’90s, color printing at home was just getting started. Color printers were brand new at that point, and he set out to be an entrepreneur and help the really high-end color printing people — people who were trying to print photographs to get realistic color reproduction.

Today the company focuses on a lot of specialty control applications and not really on the end-user market. One of their biggest products is a device used in film processing that checks in-store photography machines and calibrates them to make sure skies are blue and grasses are green.

Inside the Color-Helper is a very specialized digital camera that takes a picture of the color that a remodeler is wondering about. The device is then able to apply mathematical equations to the colors the picture picks up and identify, very precisely, what color that is.

“The other half of the equation that has far more long-term benefits is its harmony capability,” explains Bodnar. “This mathematically predicts what colors most people would say look good together vs. colors that don’t. Not that you couldn’t put them together, but ones that the majority don’t feel go together. So the Color-Helper not only can tell you what color you’re looking at, but it also can tell you what other colors you might want to consider to go with it.”

One of the most critical things when measuring color, Bodnar mentions, is the presentation of the sample. For example if measuring a piece of cloth on the seat of a chair, make sure that the cloth doesn’t get a bend in it or the device will not give a good reading on that color.

Color Savvy intends to expand on some of the capabilities of the Color-Helper. The company has software in the works that will allow people to walk around a room taking the color of different items and then use a PC to pick coordinating colors for the rest of the room, and visualize what those colors look like. So instead of having 101 little colors spread out all over the place, a remodeler will be able to see those colors on-screen.

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Comparative Companies:

To experiment with pre-coordinated color palettes online, try one of these sites.