Imaging Quality Evaluation: One Woman’s PerspectiveShare open/close
As we witnessed at the CeBIT 2014, Samsung printing solutions have become highly advanced. For example, the new Samsung Cloud Print is comprised of the Samsung Cloud Print ‘app’ and a new range of ‘NFC-enabled’ printers. The trend of the evolution of printers is inevitable, because the printing industry is a very competitive and tough industry; there are only few companies that manufacture printers in the world, and Samsung is one of them. Therefore, one of the most important things to ensure is the quality of the printer. Imaging quality is a big determining factor of user experience of a printer; therefore, evaluation of it is very vital. We met up with Dr. Yousun Bang, one of the most influential female image quality experts in the industry, to talk about being an evaluator in the tough industry.
Dr. Yousun Bang is known for her detailed and accurate evaluation of color at Samsung, but she is also known for her unique background. She got her degree in Mathematics and her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering. She also has done extensive research and experiments applying psychophysics into how people perceive color. She spoke at the Electronic Imaging conference (EI) in San Francisco back in 2011 and has been working closely with ISO/IEC to set an international standard for imaging quality. She was one of the leading figures implementing the IMQS in the Samsung printer manufacturing process.
What do you do?
I evaluate the overall printing quality and how colors are printed on printers as an image quality expert. Evaluating quality of prints involves many factors, such as thickness and definition of texts and lines, brightness, frequency, contrast, vividness, color reproduction, details, frequency and uniformity of noise, and much more. My job is to make sure people should be able to feel the perspective in the image, like they are seeing it in real life. To do that the printer needs to actualize every little detail from the image file, such as a piece of hair. When the detail and other elements, such as depth, are well-printed, we can get a very high-quality image. We always try to do accurate and consistent evaluation, so that every printer prints the same color and users can print the image they want. This involves knowing colors, but it also involves understanding how a signal is translated into the image/color.
Why is image evaluation important?
As we are living in the world where imaging/display technology is ever evolving, reliable and accurate evaluation of color is becoming more important; this applies to pretty much any device with a display. These devices are changing constantly as well, like the Curved OLED TV. There is a constant need to evaluate the quality of imaging to bring customers the kind of experience they deserve. To do this we need to research and study continuously.
For example, since the introduction of the NFC printers, people can easily print things straight from their mobile devices, which is a completely new concept. Now people are expecting very high quality images to be printed from their mobile as well, because mobile devices can capture very high quality images. We also started to research and analyze the kind of images people capture with their phone and what defines good mobile image quality, to apply the philosophy to printers.
What is the difference in evaluating texts and images?
Some people may think evaluating is just a feeling. Although emotion/feeling is extremely important, to bring out the right emotion, details are very important and evaluating the details can be very challenging. For example, evaluating text is a bit different than evaluating an image, because images are more complete in the sense that they entail brightness, depth and more. Therefore, it could be more challenging than evaluating text. And even though there is a computer that analyzes the color, in the end it is people who experience the image. Therefore, an evaluator has a very important responsibility. Of course, the evaluation is never made by one person; there are plenty of people who are involved in the evaluation process to improve the quality of imaging as well.
Are there any advantages of being a woman in the industry?
Even though all our developers work hard to create the best imaging, ultimately, it is customers who set the standard of what high quality is. Everything we are doing is for the customers, because they are our users. For example, the right level of thickness, the brightness or the definition of an image, is determined by the end user, the customers. People notice every little detail, because details make the difference in quality, and consequently, they have very high standards for what ‘great quality’ imaging is. Therefore, we need to understand what these details are from the beginning stages of the product. I definitely think that the women’s ability to pay attention to these details is a plus in this field.
The color evaluating division actually has a relatively large number of women. I think this is because woman can take advantage of the ability to approach colors emotionally. Also the number of female employees in Samsung has been increasing, because Samsung has a very good system for women in the workforce. For example, they can come back to work after they give birth (about a year) and have enough to take care of themselves and their child, which is very encouraging.
How does one become a good evaluator?
To become a good image quality evaluator, obviously, you need to be able to pay attention to details. Even if there is a very small color defect, customers realize it. Therefore, every square inch needs to have the perfect color. However, the color evaluator needs to have a good understanding of what good color is. In the end, it is all about the feelings people have when they see the image or color. It is very significant to understand how people perceive color.
Would you like to share any wisdom for future female evaluators?
Working in a male-oriented world, it is very important to learn how to make big decisions and be ready to take responsibility for the consequences. As your career advances, you will be put in situations where you have to make the big call, and when the time comes you need to be decisive and confident. Therefore, you always need to be prepared and know every little detail that goes into the decision.
I also think it is important to give back. It is important to share your knowledge and insights for the future talents. A few years ago, me and a couple of female researchers participated in a mentor program where I worked with female college students for a year. I had the privilege of working with two or three students and talking about what I do and how it is to work in the scientific field as a woman. A lot of college students are worried about their future and career. I would talk about my experience and their interests. Actually, one of them joined Samsung Electronics after the program. I feel that I need to be more active in this program to contribute to society, especially for women.
Can you tell us some of the things you are working on?
As you know, we cannot tell you anything in specific. However, for example, what we are looking at right now is photo-quality printing. When printers are able to perfectly print photo-quality images, people will be able to make their own magazine or album, which is what we call digital publishing. For example, an album is something people want to keep. They can print whatever they want from the digital world and make it tangible with a printer.
What is the most common misconception you hear about your profession?
When I tell my friends or family about how I’m in the printing industry, their reaction is universal. My profession is very specialized and relatively unknown. Whenever I tell people that I work in the printer industry, they always ask me if I can fix their printers. Although, mechanically fixing printers is not my ultimate profession, I always try to help them out. (light laugh)
Towards the end of the interview, we got to talk to some of Dr. Bang’s colleagues. They all said that for a lot of women in the office, she unknowingly gives tremendous moral support, because not only she is in a very influential position in her field, but also a lot people look up to her because she is always willing to help people with their task/career. However, her colleagues said that if we are really curious about what kind of professional she is, we should take a look at her desk. The desk of someone who came up with the most advanced and digital way to evaluate image/color was piled up with data, samples, notes and research materials. Clearly, she has a passion for her work.
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