ColorHug Plus Update

Here’s an update for people waiting for news on the ColorHug+ spectrophotometer, and perhaps not the update that you were hoping for. Three things have recently happened, and each of them makes producing the ColorHug+ even harder than it was before:

  1. A few weeks I became a father again. Producing the ColorHug and ColorHug2 devices takes a significant amount of time, brain, muscle and love, and I’m still struggling with dividing up my time between being a modern hands-on dad and also a full time job at Red Hat. ColorHug was (and still is) a hobby that got a little out of control, and not something that brings in any significant amount of money. A person spending £300 on a complex device is going to expect at least some level of support, even when I’ve had no sleep and only have half a brain on a Saturday morning.
  2. Brexit has made the GBP currency plunge in value over the last 12 months, which in theory should be good as it will encourage exports. What’s slightly different for me is that 80% of the components for each device are purchased in USD and EUR, and the remaining ones in GBP have risen accordingly with the currency plunge. I have no idea what a post-Brexit Britain looks like, but I think it’s a prudent choice to not “risk” £20k in an investment I’d essentially hope to break even on long term, for fun.
  3. The sensor for the ColorHug+ was going to be based on the bare chip SPARK from OceanOptics. I’ve spent a long time working out all the quirks of the sensor, making it work with a UV and wideband illuminant and working out all the packaging questions. The price of the sensor was always going to be expensive (it was greater than half of the RRP in one component alone, even buying a massive batch) but last month I got an email saying the sensor was going to be discontinued and would no longer be available. This is figuratively and also quite literally back to the drawing board.

I’ve included some photos above to show I’ve not been full of hot air for the last year or so, and to remind everyone that the PCB, 3D light guide model and client software are all in the various ColorHug git repos if you want to have a go at building one yourself (although, buy the sensor quickly…). I’ll still continue selling ColorHug2 devices, and supporting all the existing hardware but this might be the end of the line for ColorHug spectrometer. I’ll keep my eye on all the trade magazines for any new sensor that is inexpensive, reliable and accurate enough for ICC profiles, so all this might just be resurrected in the future, but for the short term this is all on ice. If you want a device right now the X-Rite i1Studio is probably the best of the bunch, although it is sold by Pantone with an RRP of £450. Fair warning: Pantone and free software are not exactly bedfellows, although it does work with ArgyllCMS using a reverse engineered userspace driver that might void your warranty.

I’ll update the website at some point this evening, I’m not sure whether to just post all this or remove the ColorHug+ page completely. Perhaps a sad announcement, but perhaps not one that’s too unexpected considering the lack of updates in the last few months. Sorry to disappoint everybody.

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Richard has over 10 years of experience developing open source software. He is the maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, GNOME Power Manager, GNOME Color Manager, colord, and UPower and also contributes to many other projects and opensource standards. Richard has three main areas of interest on the free desktop, color management, package management, and power management. Richard graduated a few years ago from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Electronics Engineering. He now works for Red Hat in the desktop group, and also manages a company selling open source calibration equipment. Richard's outside interests include taking photos and eating good food.

5 thoughts on “ColorHug Plus Update”

  1. Congratulations on #2. Sleep is overrated.

    But seriously, thanks for the update and –perhaps something we don’t say enough– thank you for all your hard work.

  2. Slash that guilty conscience and have a wonderful time with your family. Gadgets and hobbies can wait and might always come back later!

  3. Congratulations!

    Love my ColorHug. Thanks for all the hard work. Hope you get some sleep in the coming months.

  4. Thanks for all your hard work and the transperancy, a solution to the struggles might show up sooner than you expect. In the mean time take a well deserved brake and spend some quality time with your family, never let a hobby become a burden that takes out the fun of it. Take care! <3

  5. Congratulations on the new addition and as others said, thank you for your continued, high quality contributions to the free software world. Many of us are daily users of your work (not just on ColorHug) and you deserve kudos for it. Good luck on getting some rest!

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