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ICC Labs

This page provides information on current work inside ICC to develop the features of a next-generation color management system. The terms "ICC Labs" and "V5" profiles are used as current INTERNAL USE ONLY descriptors for the next generation system. When finally released, these terms may be changed to reflect the fact that this new system is not a simple "dot" release to the V4 spec and that a V5 profile is very different than a V2 or V4.

Why ICC Labs?

ICC color management meets the goal of creating, promoting and encouraging the standardization of an open, vendor-neutral, cross-platform color management system architecture and components. While the current architecture works well in many areas, new potential applications are emerging and it is believed that tomorrow's color comunication will require a more flexible and extensible system. ICC has begun work on new methods of meeting these requirements, provisionally titled ICC Labs

It should be noted that ICC Labs is not intended as a replacement for ICC.1, the existing architecture, but as an extension or alternative where requirements cannot be fully met by ICC.1. Currently the areas covered by ICC Labs include:

  • Multi-spectral
  • Image Capture/Digital Photography
  • Package Printing
  • Color Management on Internet
  • Fine Art
  • Color Information Archiving

ICC welcomes input from vendors and users on areas that are not covered well by the current ICC architecture.

Work on ICC Labs is actively progressing with a goal of a published specification and implementations available by the end of 2012. These will include a reference CMM that provides a baseline interpretation of profiles made for ICC Labs.

What is ICC Labs?

The main goal of ICC Labs work at present can be summed up as defining a color management system that goes beyond D50 colorimetry. This will result in a v5 specification and profiles.

Users and developers are encouraged to make comments on the goals and the means by which ICC is proposing to achieve them.

Backwards compatibility

ICC v5 will provide a significant enhancement to the functionality of the current v4 specification. It is recognised that in many industries, v4 (and even v2) meets existing color management needs and in these industries there will be no drive to move to adopt the v5 specification.

A v5 CMM will be completely backward-compatible and will recognise and correctly process v2 and v4 profiles. However, v5 profiles are not expected to be compatible with v4 CMMs. ICC will seek to provide a reference implementation to help with v5 adoption.

How will v5 profiles be different?

The full list of v5 features is still to be decided by ICC, but at present some of the main changes you will see are:

Profile Connection Space

The v5 PCS will move away from a fixed D50 colorimetry, considered necessary until now to ensure interoperability and prevent ambiguity in colour transforms. v5 will allow flexibility in the selection of illuminant (currently D50) and color matching functions (currently the CIE 1931 Standard Colorimetric Observer). It will support spectral communication of colour information through an optional spectral PCS, and will support the use of color appearance processing in the PCS, with the facility to store appearance attributes in a v5 profile.

Support for extended CMM functionality

A variety of new types of information can be stored in a v5 profile to support run-time transform creation of a smart or dynamic CMM. Examples include:

  • a new gamut boundary description (DBD)
  • spectral data
  • measurement data using the CxF format
  • a new encoding of Named colors to support tints

Programmable transforms (e.g. direct encoding of device models) will be supported, with functional operators, conditional evaluation, persistent variables and vectorized operations for improved performance.

Future extendability will be provided through support for hierarchical data encoding, allowing optional data to be added later without requiring changes to the tag parser.

Abbreviated profiles

CMMs will be able to select or define a suitable transform by referencing the color encoding standard (such as those listed in the ICC Three-component Registry) which can be specified in a v5 profile in place of a complete transform.


Comment on the v5 changes.

If you wish to comment on the proposed changes in ICC Labs, please email the ICC Technical Secretary. A selection of comments will be posted here.


Participate in ICC Labs.

If you are interested in developing or testing features being developed as part of v5, please contact the ICC Secretary to find out about individual membership of the Architecture Working Group.