ColorHug: A reasonably-priced, completely open color calibration tool


[Richard] wanted to create a color profile for his computer monitor, but he wasn’t thrilled with the existing color calibration offerings he found for sale. Color calibration tools can be somewhat costly, but even more troubling to [Richard] was the fact that they are all closed source. Closed hardware and closed software can be a drag, especially when manufacturers drop support for a product, so he set off to design his own open-source monitor calibration tool.

Once his ColorHug sensor is placed against a monitor, it begins sampling colors from the screen, creating an ICC color profile from the data it gathers. The sensor is a Linux-only tool at the moment, but he has created a live CD from which a color profile can be created, then subsequently used in Windows or OSX.

While ColorHug doesn’t sport all the features of its commercial competitors, its color sampling rate is second to none, and since the software is open, anyone is free to implement any sort of functionality they wish.

[Richard] is currently selling finished ColorHug modules to anyone interested in giving them a test drive, but you can always build your own from the plans found at ColorHug’s Github repository.

[via Adafruit blog]


  1. Just me says:

    Seems interesting. How the device is calibrated? I’m student in university that does research on colors and it would be nice to know if open source and hardware is able to measure colors accurately. Though I’m more in to math, but physics are interesting too :D

    • Bogdan says:

      Exactly, the sensor seems not to be calibrated in any way which makes this device useless.

      When you buy a monitor calibrator you expect the sensor inside to be very accurate at measuring and such a calibration probably accounts for a lot of its cost.

      Does anyone know what kind of sensor it uses?

      • macona says:

        Not only that the clear case allows ambient light in that can mess up the calibration. There is a reason every other calibrator has a opaque case and a seal to keep external light out.

        Ill stick with my LaCie BlueEye/X-Rite Eye-one.

      • oodain says:

        curse the limits of quote trees (or bless them)

        most comercial calibrators use ambient light corections, meaning they actually take in the ambient light as well as the monitor light,

        the spyder 3 will spit out a different profile at different ambient light levels to compensate so one should take a calibration in the light the monitor will usually be used with.
        this is done seperately as far as i can tell.

        now i havent tried the colorhug yet but the transparent case might achieve this effect passively, we’ll see.

  2. Cas says:

    It’s a bit odd that a this is UK based yet can’t spell colour properly ;)

    @just me

    The fact it is open-source has no bearing on accuracy as it is simply down to the expertise of the developer to select the right components plus write good code. In fact since it *is* open-source then you can verify for yourself and even make improvement suggestions.

  3. oodain says:

    i just ordered the parts for one,
    i have a spyder3 i use to make color profiles at the moment, i am eager to see how they stack up.

    • triton says:

      i have one of the older spyders, forget which one. got it at an auction and wasnt very pleased to find out the software is impossible to obtain because its an outdated model or they wanted an obscene amount of money for it :/

      • CubedOptimism says:

        Check out dispcalGUI It’s based on argyllCMS which supports the spider, and you don’t need any drivers outside of it. I think there may be some special procedure with certain spider models however. Its better than the original software would have been anyway.

  4. Ian says:


  5. Stephen says:

    Does anyone know which sensor does this uses? It’s not listed on the site.

  6. Felix says:

    There already is a project:

    They have a good Opensource software and diy instructions for building the device..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Holy s*it. Even tho I understand the physics, that’s just magic on a chip.

  8. Finder says:

    I paid $40 for a huey pro. I think that was the better deal. :) (I bought it with a monitor…)

  9. triton says:

    Thank you so much!

  10. KillerBug says:

    It looks good, but I think I’ll wait for a few user reviews. I know I wouldn’t buy it if it really doesn’t support plasma.

  11. Joe says:

    This is a neat idea but of limited practical use. This is a 3 color sensor systems and typically you need at least 4 color sensors to properly determine color.

    However it is useful to determine the electrical to optical transmission behavior. So you can’t use this to measure color with any certainty but you can use to this to determine the over all gray response, typically called gamma.

    This project is fundamentally flawed but I agree with the creators argument for it’s existence. The current crop of color sensors requires legal clearance to glean a look at it’s driver code.

    There was a open source monitor calibration software developed by HP called ookala that pretty much died because of closed source probes.

    it’s important to note that this project does not handle any display calibration. It measures the display performance and creates an ICC profile. Calibration changes the behavior of the display as opposed to only measuring it.

    I looked over the site but couldn’t find where the design is posted for the hardware. can someone kindly point to it?

  12. Skeltorr says:

    No CRT/Plasma? LCD is SHIT for color anyway.

  13. Jason says:

    Now if their was a decent open source alternative to Lightroom, I could dump windows.

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