Color Harmony & Camera Apps—an Interview with the Creator of Coloroid Pro

Scott DeVaney

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Top left image is the original shot, followed by images generated with several of Coloroid Pro's harmonic filters.

Top left image is the original shot, followed by images generated with several of Coloroid Pro’s harmonic filters.

One of the finer camera filter apps on Firefox Marketplace just got a major update. Coloroid Pro now gives you the ability to harmonize color through precise adjustments to saturation, sharpness, contrast, and exposure levels. We spoke with Coloroid Pro’s creator, Marina Ibrishimova, about the math and mystery that come together when developing an advanced digital camera filter…

What distinguishes Coloroid Pro from other camera filter apps?
Marina Ibrishimova: In addition to offering fun photo filters and mobile photo adjustment options, Coloroid Pro aspires to be a tool for artists, graphic designers, and architects, and anybody else who is interested in color harmony or how different people perceive the same colors differently.

Coloroid Pro’s harmonic filters attempt to harmonize the colors within an image, or more specifically, to force an image into one of several different harmonic schemes. Images that fit within a harmonic scheme are generally more visually appealing. Coloroid Pro also has accessibility filters that approximate what images look like to people with different types of color vision deficiencies.

What were some of the most surprising things you learned while developing a camera app? 
MI: I was surprised to learn how hard color management is—no color ever looks exactly the same to anyone on any device!

I was also surprised to learn how easy it is to emulate effects that I thought were exclusively available for traditional film cameras. Coloroid Pro’s filter Infraredian emulates some of the effects typically seen in a developed Kodak HIE photograph, which are achieved as a result of the special properties of the physical film.

But most of all, I was surprised to learn the history of research on color harmony. Artists have been creating visually appealing masterpieces based on colors’ relative position to one another on the color wheel for centuries but it was surprising to find out that color harmony was also independently studied by mathematicians.

Moses Harris' famous 18th century graphic depicts how a range of colors are made from just three base colors.

Moses Harris’ famous 18th century graphic depicts how a range of colors are made from just three base colors.

Can you describe the relationship between mathematics and color harmony? 
MI: Scientific research into color harmony dates back to one of the world’s most famous applied mathematicians, Isaac Newton, and to discoveries into the physical nature of light and color in general. Unfortunately, Newton alone was not able to describe color harmony mathematically. It took a few centuries and a brand new way of representing reality, namely digital imaging, for mathematicians to start looking at color harmony again in an attempt to describe it universally.
 
In particular, as developments in the digital representation of images emerged over the last century, efforts to describe color harmony were focused on categorizing visually appealing color schemes based on the colors’ relative positions to one another within a color space. Statistical analysis and various physiological studies helped shape the boundaries for visually appealing color schemes also known as harmonic templates. 

Roughly speaking, most digital images today can be mathematically represented by a set of points, or pixels, where each pixel is represented by several integers. Typically, there are three integers each ranging from 0 to 255, and each representing one of three primary colors. (For example, the primary colors could be red, green, and blue, or some other primary colors depending on the color space; also a fourth integer may represent opacity, or a fourth primary color, and so on.) 

Using algebra this representation of each pixel described by some primary color values can be “flattened” to reveal three separate channels: one for hue, one for saturation, and one for brightness of the pixel. 

One of Ibrishimova's original paintings (left), followed by images generated with Coloroid Pro's accessibility filters that approximate what photos look like to people with different types of color vision impairments.

One of Ibrishimova’s original paintings (left), followed by images generated with Coloroid Pro’s accessibility filters that approximate what photos look like to people with different types of color vision impairments.


The algorithm currently used in Coloroid Pro for retrieving the hue of each pixel returns a floating point value in a range between 0 and 1 where the entire range represents all colors on the visible light spectrum that the average human can perceive (and mostly agree on) and smaller sections of the entire range represent individual hues.

Coloroid Pro’s color harmonization filter checks if a pixel’s hue value falls between a certain smaller predefined range within the spectrum to determine whether it fits into the chosen harmonic template and if it doesn’t, it converts this value to its complimentary value. For example, if a bad pixel’s hue value k is below 0.5 then its complimentary value becomes k + 0.5 or if k is above 0.5 then its complimentary value is k – 0.5.

This way of fitting an image within a color scheme by forcing the relative position of some of its pixels is the fastest way to harmonize an image that I can think of and it is the simplest way mathematically speaking but it is also the least subtle way and I’m currently working on making it better. Describing color harmony is still an open problem for both mathematicians and artists and there are no perfect solutions, but it is an exciting area of research.

What are your future hopes for Coloroid Pro, or camera apps in general?
MI: I hope to see Coloroid Pro become more useful. I will continue to improve the harmonic templates, and I hope to be able to collaborate with people from other disciplines who are interested in color harmony as well, whether they have some kind of an alternative color vision or not, in order to make a truly useful product for everyone.

More generally speaking, there are a lot of camera filter apps out there and all of them are great entertainment tools but I hope to see more camera apps solving big problems, even bigger than the one I’m trying to solve right now. For example, I hope to see a camera app that in addition to making your vacation photos brighter also warns you when you’ve had too much sun and helps you avoid a sun stroke. Or even a camera filter app that can identify early signs of certain diseases with pronounced physical symptoms. Of course, such developments also depend on developments in other fields, and on the collaboration of people across many disciplines in different parts of the world. 

Friend of Marketplace: Juan Pájaro Velásquez

Scott DeVaney

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juanPlease give a hearty congrats to our latest ‘Friend of Marketplace’—Juan Pájaro Velásquez!

Juan has been a key member of our App Curation Board since its inception more than seven months ago. In this function, Juan is tasked with helping to identify the best content on Firefox Marketplace. The apps that Juan and his Board peers deem feature worthy receive special promotion on Marketplace. Without their tireless work scouring a sea of content, there’s no way we could ever find the very best cat-themed games out there.

Juan consistently goes the extra mile to find great apps. If it weren’t for Juan, hundreds of thousands of users might have never discovered the remarkable camera apps Photofunia and Photography, or played the amazing selection of mini games in the Clay.io Games catalog, or been able to easily create text documents on their Firefox OS devices with Firetext. All of the these apps were Juan’s picks.

Here’s Juan in his own words on why he chooses to devote his time to curating apps for Marketplace users: “[Mozilla’s mission] is something I truly believe in—and I support technology made by everyone for everyone. So when I was asked to join the Curation Board I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ because I was already a Firefox OS user for more than a year and wanted to help others connect to this OS.”

Many thanks to Juan and everyone else who contributed to Marketplace in March! And if you’re interested in offering your talents to April’s tasks, please check out what’s happening.

Friend of Marketplace: Giovanny Gongora

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to our newest Friend of Marketplace, Giovanny Gongora! Gio is a tireless and enthusiastic contributor who is always ready to tackle challenges and solve problems. In addition to having reviewed thousands of apps for Marketplace, he is a Mozilla Rep, member of Mozilla Hispano and Mozilla Colombia, a FirefoxOS launch team trainer, and L10N translator.

“I started to contribute to Mozilla since I was 15 years old, now I have a lot of friends from different parts of the world and I collaborate on projects I love and I want to support. Mozilla is the place where your voice is listened and let you be part of something big. Today Mozilla and the community are part of my life, a life that never will be the same.”

Thanks to Gio for all his contributions!

Thanks also to everyone who contributed to Marketplace and AMO in February—lots of people participated, and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

The new contribution wiki for March is now available. Please check it for projects that might interest you, and to report any of your contributions.

rollApp Brings OpenOffice and LibreOffice to Firefox OS

Scott DeVaney

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blog_OOCool news: rollApp, a cloud technology provider, recently published its suite of OpenOffice and LibreOffice apps on Firefox Marketplace. These include OO Writer & LO Writer, OO Calc & LO Calc, OO Impress & LO Impress, and OO Draw & LO Draw.

Each of these popular, open-source alternatives to Microsoft Office are integrated with cloud storage services, so you can work directly with your files via Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive.

“With the launch of rollApp’s productivity suite on Firefox Marketplace, users now have access to a wide array of productivity applications on their Firefox OS devices,” said Bertrand Neveux, Director of Marketplace & Content Ecosystem at Mozilla. “The world is more mobile than ever, making productivity software a must for both business and personal use. We’re thrilled to offer the addition of rollApp’s selection of HTML5 productivity apps on Firefox Marketplace.”

Viva Carnival!

Scott DeVaney

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carnivalThroughout many parts of South America, we’re deep into peak party season. Street celebrations, parades, floats, dancing, costumes, sweating (lots of sweating), and apps!

We have a few Carnival-inspired app collections to help Firefox OS users in Brazil, Colombia, and other random party places in South America get the most out of their celebrations. Enjoy.

For those of us who don’t happen to live in the beautiful summertime bliss of South America, here, you can celebrate your freezing temperatures by playing this great little skiing game.

Friend of Marketplace & AMO: Swarnava Sengupta

Amy Tsay

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Screenshot 2015-02-02 14.05.41Congratulations to our newest Friend of Marketplace, Swarnava Sengupta! Swarnava has been a Mozillian for three years, contributing to SUMO, QA, Marketing, Webmaker, as well as serving his fourth stint on the Featured Add-ons Board.

In January, Swarnava was our boots on the ground in India, helping to troubleshoot hard-to-duplicate issues with our most popular app, ConnectA2. This was a huge help not only to the developer, but to the many users of the app.

“I’m passionate about technology, I like the idea behind open source software and I was thinking about starting contributing to an open source project. Mozilla was the obvious choice, I knew it was one of the biggest open-source software projects and that it was very community-driven. I’m very excited about it especially having the chance to work with the various teams.”

Thanks to Swarnava for all his contributions!

We also wanted to recognize the top app reviewer last month, Viswaprasath, and top add-on reviewer, Teo. Together, they performed over 1,000 reviews!

The new contribution wiki for February is now available. Please be sure to report your contributions there, or even do it for another awesome contributor. There is a new guided project for the month, so feel free to work on it or add a project you’d like help on.

Top Picks from 2014’s “App of the Month” Contests

Scott DeVaney

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Starting in mid 2013, Mozilla’s Firefox Student Ambassador program organized a monthly Firefox OS app development contest. Student app enthusiasts from all over the world were invited to create an app and submit it to Firefox Marketplace to be considered for each month’s contest. For more info about the program, please visit the “App of the Month” details page.

blog_BeFitWe saw a lot of fantastic and inspired entries last year—more than 70 app submissions in all—but here are a few that particularly stood out…

BeFit by Mohammad Yaseen Khan
For everyone looking to shed a few pounds this New Year, check out BeFit, an exercise app designed for folks without much time or access to gym equipment. It also focuses on indoor workouts and features handy body mass index info.

Firefox Assistant by Hossain Al Ikram
Learn tons of valuable tips and tricks about the Firefox web browser with this helpful app; it even breaks down the details by operating systems (Windows, Linux, and Mac).

My Diary by Abin Abraham
This is a really slick, streamlined note-taking journal. Elegant UI. With each entry the date and time is automatically saved. My Diary also comes with a geo-locator so your notes can be associated with areas.

Sports Quiz by Mohankumar Duraisamy
Here’s a super fun sports trivia app which plays like a game, complete with a question timer and scoring.

EduApp by Siddhartha Pharate
EduApp is structured similarly to Sports App, but instead of sports, EduApp features trivia content related to the internet, the open web, and even Mozilla specifically!

Pak Days by Maqbool ur Rahim Khan
Here’s a greta example of locally-focused app—Pak Days helps you understand the history and customs of key Pakistani holidays.

FoxyFlames by Jim-Bert Amante

A love calculator! Does it actually compute quantifiable measurements of love for its users? I, for one, choose to believe that it does.

December Contributor of the Month: Niccolò Cantù

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to Niccolò Cantù, our Marketplace Contributor of the Month for December! Niccolò is an app developer, Firefox Student Ambassador, and Mozilla supporter.

He began contributing in March 2014, and has since published seven apps on Marketplace, written a chapter for the FirefoxOS Quick Guide in Italian, and reported many bugs.

In December, Niccolò also compiled a list of all the Italian FirefoxOS apps on Marketplace, and provided support in the Mozilla Italia forums. He says:

“I’d like to thank the Mozilla Italia Community for their support and Daniele Scasciafratte; he introduced me to Mozilla and is my mentor since then. As a Firefox Student Ambassador I hope that more and more college students would spare some of their time contributing to the project, Open Web is an opportunity we should share!”

An honorable mention goes out to Rachel Hathaway, who landed a patch on Marketplace after conquering the steep path to setting up a dev environment, braving a mountain of feedback (68 review comments!), all while commenting on other bugs. Cheers to Rachel!

A new wiki for January is now available. Please remember to report your accomplishments in the Get Recognized section, or report the accomplishments of others who might otherwise go unnoticed. Hope your new year is off to a good start!

Khan Academy Makes Education Accessible

Scott DeVaney

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KA1Featuring more than 5,000 instructional videos and guided coursework covering a full array of subject matter—everything from math and science to art history and finance—the Khan Academy app is a beautiful illustration of the power of the mobile web. Brian R. Bondy developed the Firefox OS version of Khan Academy and tells us why this is such an important and personal project for him…

Is there a certain student age range for which Khan Academy is best suited? 
Brian R. Bondy: Khan Academy is a non-profit with a mission to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. The content not only covers K-12 but also goes beyond that. I’ve heard stories of 97-year-old ladies using the site. The content is applicable to any age, race, or gender. 

KA3Current languages supported include English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, and Bengali—do you have any plans to expand your language support?
BRB: We’ll definitely be supporting more languages as time goes on. Adding additional languages to the app itself is not too hard, but we need to make sure that the content on the site provided by the APIs is also localized.

One contributor, Sashoto Seeam, not only localized the app to Bengali, but also created links for hundreds of videos on the site itself. This ensures that content is delivered in the proper language.

How did you personally become involved with the Khan Academy project?
BRB: I’ve been a contributor on and off for a few years. In April 2014, I decided it was something I wanted to do full time.

Do you plan to add features to the app over time?
BRB: Yes, I’ll be actively developing the app during my spare time. I’m also starting to get help from the open source community. For example in v1.1 of the app, there is a feature to set the playback rate of videos, and it was developed by a contributor named Farez Vadsaria.

Do you have any other future plans for the app?
BRB: Yes, a couple of the major features include a new video player (using video.js) and exercise support for the app.

KA2Which frameworks did you use to build the app?
BRB: The app was built with Facebook’s React + Backbone for models. React is awesome, free, and open source. You declaratively specify your app’s views in various modularized components. It greatly simplifies your code and more Firefox OS apps should use it.

Khan Academy gives users “energy points” for the educational content they engage with. Can you explain more about this credit system and why it matters?
BRB: Energy points is just a quick measure of the effort someone puts in at Khan Academy. Points are awarded for a variety of things, but most commonly for performing activities like watching videos and doing exercises. They help motivate learners and sometimes users will set personal goals for obtaining a certain number of points. Other reward systems used by the site include badges, levels, and attaining mastery at various different skills.  Only energy points are currently in the Khan Academy Firefox OS app, but there are plans to support the other reward systems too.

If you’re interested in learning more about Khan Academy and why Brian developed it for Firefox OS, here’s a link to a recent post on his blog.

Brand Name Content Continues to Emerge on Firefox OS

Scott DeVaney

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Follow your friends on Rdio to discover new music.

Follow your friends on Rdio to discover new music.

As 2014 draws to a close, Firefox OS devices are now sold in 28 countries (with more to come next year). As the reach of Firefox OS grows, so does the breadth of its content ecosystem. I wanted to share some exciting news around a few recent additions to Firefox Marketplace

A trove of Microsoft content is now available, including Outlook, Bing Maps & Search, and MSN.

One of the world’s foremost publishing platforms, WordPress, has developed a version tailored for Firefox OS.

For old-school gaming fans, we’re thrilled to welcome Namco’s Pac-Man into the fold. It’s crazy to recall the very first arcade version of this classic debuted in the U.S. way back in 1980!

While we’re on the topic of entertainment, it’s awesome to see Firefox OS users enjoying millions of free songs on Rdio. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new band and get tickets to their next tour through the Ticketmaster app. You can use Nokia’s HERE Maps to find the venue. And be sure to take pics and videos of the concert to share with friends via Telegram, a fabulous, free open source messaging app that puts tremendous emphasis on the security of your personal content.

The massively popular video portal Dailymotion now has a Firefox OS app, too. This is important, because there are times when we all need videos of kittens falling asleep.

Bing Maps displays traffic levels, road conditions, and aerial views.

Bing Maps displays traffic levels, road conditions, and aerial views.

Beyond the obvious desire to reach broader audiences, why are major content players producing apps for Firefox OS? “Our hope for open source platforms is the continuation of a quality, flexible, customizable platform embraced by a vibrant developer community, which continues to provide a viable option to users of iOS, Android, and Windows in the mobile space,” says Scott Kepron of Kobo, a leader in eReading that published their own Firefox OS app.

“The low price of a Firefox OS device makes it appealing to a variety of countries where other smart phones and devices are out of reach,” says Brian R. Bondy of Khan Academy, a revolutionary education app available in six languages. “

Liam Petraska, Director of Mobile Content for the wildly popular MyTones ringtone app, echoed this sentiment, “Being an open source platform, Firefox OS offers a new level of personalization to the user, which was a natural fit for our MyTones application… As [open source platforms] grow, we hope they will gain traction and market share as they continue to be adopted in more and more countries across the globe. Offering Firefox OS as an additional choice to the consumer is positive for the mobile industry as a whole.”