Measurement of sparkle: EMPIR proposal for new CIE technical committee accepted

Red Sport Car on a HighWay

International Commission on Illumination (CIE) new technical committee on the measurement of sparkle and graininess

The project

EMPIR project ‘Bidirectional reflectance definitions’ (16NRM08, BiRD) is working to carry out measurements on different visual effects and independently validate them, and use these measurements to propose standards and guidance, as well as agreeing formats for measurement data. It will make recommendations for the characterisation of surface colour, gloss, sparkle and graininess effects and agree new approaches for measuring these.



These standardised approaches will help manufacturers produce a new generation of instruments, giving many industries, including automotive and cosmetics, better control of product appearance and higher customer satisfaction.

The new CIE technical committee

The International Commission on Illumination is devoted to worldwide cooperation and the exchange of information on all matters relating to the science and art of light and lighting, colour and vision, photobiology and image technology.

The CIE Board of Administration accepted the proposal initiated by the project consortium for the creation of a CIE Technical Committee on the measurement of Sparkle and Graininess in November 2017. The Technical Committee will provide a methodology to measure sparkle and graininess, and to develop a measurement scale.

Dr Alejandro Ferrero from CSIC and a member of the EMPIR project consortium has been appointed Committee Chair.

There is global interest in this committee, with current members including representatives from Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Belgium, Japan, France, USA and Czech Republic.

Gael Obein from LNE, and Project Coordinator said ‘Today, more than 80% of cars produced in the world have a coating effect showing sparkle and graininess. Other industrial sectors like cosmetics, pulp and paper, and textile are also highly concerned with this effect. However, to date only two commercial instruments propose a quantification of sparkle and both are black boxes where even the measurand is not open access. The new Technical Committee CIE JTC 12 will clearly define the measurand and the measurement protocol for sparkle and graininess to provide indices that correlate with the visual perception of the effect. That done, the setup of references, transfer artefact and traceable commercial devices will be possible, ensuring to industrials better control of this important visual attributes.’

Workshop 'Challenges on the measurement of sparkle and graininess'

5 November 2019, Espoo Finland

This workshop on the measurement of sparkle, run by the project consortium, will include the following topics:

  • Perception
  • NMI facilities
  • Automotive
  • Measurement scales
  • Instruments
  • Visual experiments
  • Coatings
  • Displays

For further information, please contact Alejandro Ferrero (

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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