Assistive Technology: Relumino Mode for Samsung TV

Released on 2023 Samsung TVs, Relumino Mode is an assistive technology for people with low vision. Relumino Mode aims to make TV more accessible and desirable for individuals with low vision by enhancing the image brightness, contrast, color, sharpness, and outlines.

About low vision

It is estimated that over 500 million people worldwide experience a form of low vision. Low vision is uncorrectable vision loss, often defined by a visual acuity of 20/70 or less. It can involve a loss of central or peripheral vision, difficulty seeing in low light, or vision that is generally blurry. Causes include injury, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

Comparison of non-impaired vision and low vision
Source: Samsung Developers

How is Relumino Mode designed for people with low vision?

Samsung identified a limitation faced by people with low vision: TVs do not provide them with clear images. Many people with low vision rely on the audio of a TV show or movie to understand what is happening on the screen. Relumino Mode helps by enhancing image brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness, in addition to outlining shapes, to display clearer images to people with low vision.

Comparison between "understanding the screen with audio" and "improving visibility with Relumino Mode"
Source: Samsung Developers

Adjusting image intensity and object edge color with Relumino Mode

Relumino Mode is designed to be accessible to the entire spectrum of low vision, so it provides soft, medium, and strong intensity settings. Intensity refers to the degree of image contrast, brightness, and sharpness. Strong intensity shows the most increase in these visual characteristics from the original image, benefitting people with the most severe forms of low vision. 

Setting to adjust Relumino Mode intensity to soft, medium, or strong
Source: Samsung

Edge color is also customizable in Relumino Mode, meaning users can select a green or black outline for objects that appear on screen. Outlines give clarity to objects that would otherwise appear hazy and blurry to people with low vision. 

Settings to adjust Relumino Mode edge color to black or green
Source: Samsung

Relumino Mode improves onscreen images for people with low vision by following the functional solutions model of disability, which aims to overcome the limitations of disability through technological advancement. A more intensive image with object outlines improves utility and usability. These clearer images also make TV more desirable for people with low vision. 

How Relumino Mode appears when off vs on to people with low vision
Source: Samsung Developers

The social implications of Relumino Mode

Relumino Mode also reflects the social model of disability by recognizing a problem with TVs, not people with low vision. Samsung empowers this group of users to explore and participate in media and culture. This can also reinforce the social identity model of disability, as users with low vision might feel more accepted and comfortable with their disability. However, Relumino Mode falls short of maximizing usability and desirability in all social settings.

The current version of Relumino Mode provides an all-or-nothing experience: either the mode is activated or it is not. The settings don’t accommodate use cases in which users with low vision and users with unimpaired vision are watching together. TV is often a social activity, and Relumino Mode does not address this need. 

Samsung plans to add a “Together Mode” in the future, which would display the original image alongside an image enhanced by Relumino Mode. This addition would allow Relumino Mode to better align with the social model of disability, as users with low vision could meaningfully participate whether they are watching alone or in a group.

Together Mode with the "normal image" alongside "Relumino Mode ON"
Source: Samsung Developers

Relumino Mode is built into Samsung’s newest TVs

Relumino Mode is only available on Samsung’s 2023 TV models, which counterintuitively lessens the accessibility and compatibility of the technology. Rather than opting for a more universal solution, Samsung requires people with low vision to purchase a new TV if they want an experience that meets their needs. This can be cost prohibitive and exclude users in need of the technology. 

Relumino Mode creates an enhanced TV-watching experience for people with low vision

By intensifying image brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness, Relumino Mode empowers people with low vision to participate in watching TV. Although it does not yet accommodate social viewing among people with low vision and non-impaired vision, it improves the utility, usability, and desirability of the TVs with which it is compatible. Overall, TVs with Relumino Mode demonstrate a technological advancement that makes media and culture more accessible to people with low vision.