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BRDF of human skin in the visible spectrum

Smith, Lyndon Neal; Farooq, Abdul Rehman; Smith, Melvyn Lionel; Farooq, Abdul; Smith, Lyndon; Sohaib, Ali; Smith, Melvyn; Broadbent, Laurence


Lyndon Neal Smith

Abdul Rehman Farooq

Melvyn Lionel Smith

Abdul Farooq
Associate Head of Department Business Engagement and Partnerships

Lyndon Smith
Professor in Computer Simulation and Machine

Ali Sohaib

Profile Image

Melvyn Smith
Research Centre Director Vision Lab/Prof

Laurence Broadbent


© Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose - Significant research has been carried out in terms of development of new bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) instruments; however, there is still little research available regarding spectral BRDF measurements of human skin. This study aims to investigate the variation in human skin reflectance using a new fibre optic-based spectral-BRDF measurement device. Design/methodology/approach - Design of this system mainly involves use of multiple fibre optics to illuminate and detect light reflected from a sample, whereas a hemispherical dome was 3D printed to mount the fibres at various slant/tilt angles. To investigate the spectral differences in BRDF of human skin, 3 narrowband filters in the visible spectrum were used, whereas measurements were taken from the back of the hand for Caucasian and Asian skin types. Findings - The experiments demonstrate that the BRDF of human skin varies with wavelengths in the visible spectrum and it is also different for Caucasian and Asian skin types. Both skin types exhibit off-specular reflection with increase in angle of incidence and show less variation with respect to viewing angles when the angle of incidence is normal to the surface. Research implications - A database of spectral BRDF measurements of human skin will help not only in creating realistic skin renderings but also in development of novel skin reflectance models for biomedical and machine vision applications. The measurements would also provide means to validate the predictions from existing light transport/spectral simulation models for human skin and will ultimately help in the accurate diagnosis and simulation of various skin disorders. Originality/value - The proposed system provides fast scatter measurements by utilising multiple fibres to detect light simultaneously at different angles while also allowing easy switching between incident light directions. Due to its flexible design and contact-based measurements, the device is independent of errors due to sample movements and does not require any image registration. Also, measurements taken from the device show that the BRDF of skin varies significantly in the visible spectrum and it is different for Caucasian and Asian skin types.


Smith, M. L., Smith, L. N., Farooq, A. R., Sohaib, A., Farooq, A., Smith, L., …Broadbent, L. (2017). BRDF of human skin in the visible spectrum. Sensor Review, 37(4), 390-395.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 18, 2017
Publication Date Sep 18, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 28, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 19, 2017
Journal Sensor Review
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 4
Pages 390-395
Keywords machine vision, reflectance, spectral analysis, rendering, BRDF
Public URL
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