Milestone-Proposal:Bayer Color Filter Array

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Docket #:2023-15

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on the edit button in toolbar above, indicated by an icon displaying a pencil on paper. At the bottom of the form, check the box that says "Submit this proposal to the IEEE History Committee for review. Only check this when the proposal is finished" and save the page.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Bayer Color Filter Array, 1976

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

Bayer Filter, invented by Bryce Bayer at Eastman Kodak in 1976, revolutionized digital imaging. Its RGB color filter mosaic mimics human eye perception, enabling efficient color interpolation in digital cameras. A cornerstone of digital photography, it transformed visual communication, enriching human understanding globally.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Rochester Section
Senior Officer Name: Eric Brown

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Rochester Section
Senior Officer Name: Eric Brown

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section:
IEEE Section Chair name: {{{Section chair name}}}

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Mark Schrader
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

Are the original buildings extant?

Details of the plaque mounting:

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

Bryce Bayer is the inventor of the Bayer Filter, as described in US Patent 3,971,065, and is widely recognized for his significant contribution to digital imaging. The Eastman Kodak Company is included in the citation as the place where Bayer invented the filter and led the development of its applications in digital imaging technology. The citation recognizes both the individual inventor and the organization that supported the invention's development and commercialization.

The Bayer Filter has had an immense technological and social impact since its invention in 1976. It has been central to the explosion of digital photography and has transformed the way humans capture and share visual information.

From a technological standpoint, the Bayer Filter enabled the efficient capture of color images using a single sensor, drastically simplifying the design and manufacture of digital cameras. Before its invention, capturing a full-color image required multiple sensors or complex mechanisms to filter different colors to different sensors. The Bayer Filter allowed for a single sensor to capture full-color images, making digital cameras significantly more compact and affordable, and thus accessible to the consumer market.

Scientifically, the Bayer Filter embodies a fascinating blend of color science, human visual perception, and digital image processing. Its design, which dedicates more pixels to the green channel than to the red or blue, mirrors the human eye's greater sensitivity to green light. This insight is an example of bio-inspired design, where observations of nature are used to solve human problems.

In terms of social importance, the Bayer Filter has reshaped visual communication in profound ways. With the rise of the internet and social media, digital images have become a primary means of communication and expression. The Bayer Filter, as a key component of digital cameras—including those in nearly every smartphone—has facilitated this revolution. It has democratized access to image creation, allowing anyone with a digital camera to capture and share their experiences with the world. This has had wide-reaching impacts on society, influencing everything from journalism and education to art and social interaction.

In sum, the Bayer Filter represents a significant milestone in the history of technology and society. It is a testament to how an innovative solution to a technical problem can spark a revolution in how humans interact with the world and each other.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The development of the Bayer Filter required overcoming several technical and perhaps organizational obstacles.

Technical Obstacles:

   Color Representation: The primary technical challenge was designing a system that could capture a full-color image using a single sensor. Before the Bayer Filter, achieving full-color imaging required multiple sensors, each dedicated to capturing one primary color, or complex mechanisms for separating colors onto different sensors. Creating a practical, compact, and affordable single-sensor color imaging system was a significant technical obstacle.
   Mosaic Pattern Design: Deciding on an optimal layout for the color filters was another major hurdle. The chosen design had to balance the need for color resolution with the practical considerations of image processing. Bayer's solution, which allocates twice as many green filters as red or blue to mimic the human eye's greater sensitivity to green light, was a key innovation.
   Demosaicing Algorithms: Once the mosaic pattern was decided, the challenge was to develop effective algorithms for interpolating the missing color information at each pixel—a process called demosaicing. Getting this right was crucial to produce high-quality color images.

Organizational Obstacles:

While there's no specific record of political or organizational obstacles faced by Bryce Bayer at Eastman Kodak, it's not unusual for inventors in large organizations to encounter resistance when proposing novel ideas. Convincing others of the viability of his filter design and securing resources for development and testing could have been potential hurdles.

Geographic Obstacles:

Geography does not seem to have been a significant factor in the development of the Bayer Filter. However, it's worth noting that the widespread adoption of this technology was facilitated by the global reach of Eastman Kodak, which at the time was one of the leading companies in photographic equipment and materials.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The Bayer Filter stands out from other similar achievements due to its simplicity, efficiency, and bio-inspired design, which uniquely combined the fields of human visual perception, color science, and digital image processing.

   Simplicity: The Bayer Filter uses a single sensor to capture full-color images. Previous methods required either multiple sensors or mechanically complex and expensive color separation systems, making the Bayer Filter a considerably simpler and more cost-effective solution.
   Efficiency: The Bayer Filter's mosaic layout allows for a relatively straightforward demosaicing process. Through a simple interpolation algorithm, each sensor pixel can derive missing color information from its neighbors. This allows for the production of high-quality color images without requiring intensive computational resources.
   Bio-Inspired Design: The Bayer Filter's design, allocating more green-sensitive pixels to mimic the human eye's greater sensitivity to green light, represents an early example of bio-inspired design in digital imaging technology. This approach allowed the filter to more accurately reproduce colors as perceived by the human eye.
   Widespread Adoption: The Bayer Filter is not just a theoretical invention but has been adopted universally in digital imaging. The vast majority of digital cameras—including those in smartphones—use the Bayer Filter, highlighting its practical value and influence on the industry.
   Foundational Influence: The Bayer Filter laid the foundation for subsequent innovations in digital imaging. It set a new standard for single-sensor color imaging that has guided the development of more advanced imaging sensors and demosaicing algorithms. It's not an overstatement to say that every color digital image captured today owes something to the principles established by the Bayer Filter.

All these features set the Bayer Filter apart from similar achievements and underscore its unique significance in the history of digital imaging.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.