3D printing process helps blind people "see" art
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 incollaboration with the NationalFederation of the Blind, the process of 3D tactile printing was inspired by theworks on neuroplasticity by Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, a neuroscientist atthe University of Wisconsin-Madison.
According to Bach-y-Rita’sresearch the human brain is capable of processing the tactileinformation obtained from fingertip contact like it had been obtainedfrom visualization, which basically means that a blind person can run their fingers over the 3Dprinted tactile fine art and create mental picture of it in theirbrain, just like a normal sighted person would do.
To improve theexperience, sensors are implemented into the prints which, whentouched, give off audio that tells the user what is being shown atthat part of the painting.
The company says it has spent seven years developing the 3D Tactile Fine Art PrintingProcess, and an additional two years in one-on-one research and trialswith blind or visually impaired volunteers. The process is capable ofcreating transformed art at sizes as large as 60 x 120-inches.
"Our goal is tomake the world’s greatest art and greatest photography available toblind people at every museum, every science centre and every culturalinstitution, 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 sumof 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.