We Tried the Gadget That Can Tell You the Paint Color of Literally Anything

published Oct 16, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Like most people, I love using Shazam to identify songs I hear on the radio or at a restaurant, and I always joke that I wish there was something similar for other things in life. I mean, how nice would it be to Shazam someone’s perfume, and not have to awkwardly ask what scent they’re wearing? Or what if you could somehow Shazam the awesome lipstick or nail polish that your Uber pool co-rider is wearing? Or even find out the name of the bag you spotted someone using at the grocery store?

Well, I haven’t figured out any of those yet, but I did recently learn that there actually is a Shazam-like app that matches, well, anything with a corresponding paint shade. As you can imagine, I was super eager to test it out. My verdict: The ColorReader works magic, people.

Credit: ColorReader

Simply purchase one of the color-identifying gadgets (they’re available on Amazon), download the corresponding app, and go to town. Everything is scannable! When you place the ColorReader’s lens up against any object or surface while pressing “read” in the app, you’ll receive your paint color match within seconds from any one of more than 14 paint brands.

The file folder I keep on my desk? Apparently it matches closely to Fresh Scent Green by Benjamin Moore, but it’s also relatively similar to Lawn Party by Behr, which pops up as another result. My chair most closely aligns with Artillery by PPG. My hair? Yes, I pressed the ColorReader against it to see what would happen, and apparently my brown locks most closely resemble a Valspar shade called Deep Earth. Oh, and I’ve been wanting to know what the obscure burnt orange paint in my rental kitchen is closest to should I need to make any minor touchups, and the ColorReader provided me with an answer for that, too.

Credit: ColorReader

In testing out the ColorReader, I did notice that pressing the lens on the same object multiple times can yield slightly different results, so it’s important to run a few tests before settling on a paint color for good. When scanning it on my file folder, for example, I got a few different results depending on where I placed the lens, even though the item itself is monochromatic. That said, there are many shades that closely resemble each other anyway, so it’s only natural that the Reader will have some difficulty identifying one perfect match every single time. But as a whole, the Reader is an amazing alternative to having to carry a fabric swatch with you to the paint store—you can simply save your preferred colors on the app after scanning items—and is far more reliable than the naked eye.

What’s great about the ColorReader is that it’s pocket-sized and just a little bit wider in diameter than a small glue stick, making it easy to toss in your purse and bring on the go. So the next time you’re staying in a gorgeous hotel suite and wondering what perfect shade of blue was used in the bathroom, you can easily find out for yourself. When the gadget runs low on battery—which hasn’t happened to me yet!—simply charge it using the included cord, and you’ll be good to go.

Have you used a ColorReader before or read about the tool? We’d love to hear your thoughts!