3D printing process helps blind people "see" art

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"Our goal is to make the world’s greatest art and greatest photography available to blind people at every museum, every science centre and every cultural institution ..."

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New York-based company 3Dphotoworks is aiming to make the 2D world of art accessible to blind people using a 3D printing process that turns paintings, drawings and photographs into 3D printed tactile fine art.

Developed in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind, the process of 3D tactile printing was inspired by the works on neuroplasticity by Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

According to Bach-y-Rita’s research the human brain is capable of processing the tactile information obtained from fingertip contact like it had been obtained from visualization, which basically means that a blind person can run their fingers over the 3D printed tactile fine art and create mental picture of it in their brain, just like a normal sighted person would do.

To improve the experience, sensors are implemented into the prints which, when touched, give off audio that tells the user what is being shown at that part of the painting.

The company says it has spent seven years developing the 3D Tactile Fine Art Printing Process, and an additional two years in one-on-one research and trials with blind or visually impaired volunteers. The process is capable of creating transformed art at sizes as large as 60 x 120-inches.

"Our goal is to make the world’s greatest art and greatest photography available to blind people at every museum, every science centre and every cultural institution, first in this country [the U.S.] and then beyond," says 3DPhotoWorks Co-Founder John Olson.

The company has launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising a sum of US$500,000 by December 9. If the goal is met, the funds would be utilized towards growing the company’s staff, technology, and production capabilities.

The crowdfunding campaign pitch can be seen below.

Source: 3Dphotoworks

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