One I have been testing out on the iPhone is the ben® Color Capture™ iPhone app. Based on photos you take or pull from your existing library, the app suggests Benjamin Moore color palettes. You can get even more specific color suggestions by tapping on areas within the photo. Shake the phone and you get a corresponding harmony palette. It's quite elegant and intuitive.
Here's a shot of the bay I took yesterday with a palette suggestion (left). It also provides a specific color suggestion from a spot on the sky that I tapped (right):
The only caveat with any digital form of color representation is that it is only a close suggestion. You must rely on actual paint swatches in daylight for accurate paint selection. The same is true for the fairly recent apps that Pantone has created. Unless those colors are specifically for screen end-use, nothing beats the accuracy of an actual color chip with real Pantone inks (or, paint)—and even then, light and the material being printed or painted impacts the color result.
Along with strategically utilizing technology, companies that establish smart partnerships that ultimately help consumers envision use of their products are adding tremendous value to their brands. This partnership between Cambria and Benjamin Moore proves that in this excellent online tool that guides customers in choosing Benjamin Moore paint palettes that compliment your Cambria stone counter tops:
Usually, I have not been a fan of applications or sites that simulate the decor of a room. They tend to be limited in style and not always completely applicable to your own rooms. The end result always tends to be a little "rough". But this one by Sherwin Williams is one of the better that I have seen. It allows you to upload photos or get started right away with their provided gallery. The color palette is vast and adding color to the images happens fairly quickly. Like mentioned above, color accuracy will always be an issue and I found this to especially be the case with the palette of white tones on the site. There are a lot of very slight variations in choosing a shade of white and the computer screen just cannot display these fine color differences. But overall, this site shows promise for consumer-based interior design tools.
In looking at many of these tools, I found there is a lot of room and opportunity to create relevant, useful guides for DIY home improvement. It certainly inspired me to think about interior design inspiration in the interactive design realm in my own work.