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Bidding adieu to a master inventor

Bryce Bayer, the inventor of Bayer Filter passed away recently at the age of 83. The former Kodak scientist is most widely recognised as the ‘Father of Digital Imaging’ for his 1976 patented Bayer Filter which till now finds applications in almost all digital cameras and mobile phones. His unforgettable contribution to the digital world plays an integral part in the way we see and perceive images nowadays as an incessant part of all our daily lives.

Bayer’s invention marked a significant paradigm shift in the way we view and capture images. The "Color Imaging Array" U.S patent (Patent No.: 3,971,065) filed in 1975, describes that “the colour filters are arranged in a checkerboard pattern to best match how people perceive images and provide a highly detailed color image.”

The Bayer filter is basically a RGB colour filter array (CFA) with a square grid built of photosensors.  A Bayer’s array imitates how a human eye sees distinguishes colours in the RGB pattern.  These three colour filters in a checkerboard arrangement inside a Bayer’s array help create colour from the greyscale image information stored in the imaging chip. Ultimately this filter allows devices to capture colour images using a single sensor. This arrangement after its development by Bayer found many takers as the earlier arrangement of a beam splitter was expensive and bulky.

Here is a visual representation of how a sensor in a digital camera with Bayer filter acquires an image.

And, this is how the camera reconstructs the image using interpolation. Notice on how the algorithms figure out the actual colours to be at placed at each pixel based on the RGB readings:

Also, notable among Bayer’s contribution to photography are his algorithms that were integral for storing, enhancing, and printing digital images.

Bryce Bayer spent most of his illustrious career with Eastman Kodak working in digital image technology before retiring in the 1990s. He was also conferred with the 2009 recipient of the Royal Photographic Society’s Progress Award. Dr. Terry Taber, Kodak Vice President and Chief Technology Officer had then rightly said, "The elegant colour technology invented by Bryce Bayer is behind nearly every digital image captured today." We pay our homage to the maestro without whom photography as we know wouldn’t have been the same.