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These New Glasses Can Put Your Color Perception Powers Into Overdrive

As far as color vision goes, humans are definitely not the superstars of the animal kingdom (*cough* mantis shrimp *cough*). Most people can perceive about one million different colors. And while that sounds like a lot, researchers just developed a pair of glasses that can boost that number even higher. Who's ready for superhuman color vision?

Related: Can These Glasses Really Cure Colorblindness?

Ol' Rainbow Eyes

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a pair of glasses that can increase the number of colors your eyes perceive. Specifically, these glasses will give you the ability to see a noticeable difference between two shades of blue that look identical to the unaided eye. Humans have three lengths of cone cells in their eyeballs (short, medium, and long), which gives us normal trichromatic vision—basically that means blue, green, and red. These UW-Madison glasses kind of trick the eye into thinking it has a fourth kind of cone cell. Currently, the glasses can only split the blue color channel, but the team plans to make green and red filters next.

Related: Violet and Purple Aren't The Same Thing

Cool! But Why?

They're not quite tetrachromat glasses, but it's a step in that direction. (Tetrachromats, by the way, are people who really do have a fourth type of cone cell. These people can see 100 million colors while regular ol' seers can only perceive about one million.) So it'd be cool to see lots of trippy colors and everything, but what's the point? According to the paper, these glasses "may have applications ranging from camouflage detection and anti-counterfeiting, to art and data visualization." Futurism describes these glasses as an addition to a growing "sensory enhancement movement," to which we say bring it on.

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Watch And Learn: Fascinating Content About Color Perception

How Many Colors Can We See?

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Cones are the eye's color receptors, and most people have three types: blue, red, and green. 00:23

  2. Most humans can see about 1 million colors. 00:55

  3. Tetrachromats have a fourth type of cone, and can see up to 100 million colors. 01:52

How Does Colorblindness Work?

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