A Kickstarter campaign has been launched in an effort to help the visually impaired enjoy artwork traditionally enjoyed through sight.
Working in collaboration the National Federation of the Blind, 3DPhotoWorks has developed a recently patented 3D printing process capable of converting a painting, drawing, photograph or other form of traditional 2D artwork into a 3D printed tactile fine art.
3DphotoWorks has spent seven years on the 3D Tactile Fine Art Printing Process, including two years of one-on-one research and focus group testing with volunteers who are either blind or visually impaired. The process is capable of creating transformed art at sizes as large as 60″ x 120”.
“Our goal is to make the world’s greatest art and greatest photography available to blind people at every museum, every science center and every cultural institution, first in this country [the U.S.] and then beyond,” 3DPhotoWorks Co-Founder John Olson said on the process’ Kickstarter page.
Based on neuroplasticity, the process of 3D tactile printing was encouraged by the work of Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. According to 3DphotoWorks, Bach-y-Rita’s research shows that the human brain is capable of processing the tactile information obtained from fingertip contact like it had been obtained from visualization. “That’s because we don’t see with our eyes or hear with our ears, these are just the receptors, seeing and hearing in fact goes on in the brain,” according to Bach-y-Rita’s studies.
The result? When a blind or visually impaired person touches a painting or drawing developed through 3D printed tactile fine art, that person’s brain develops a mental picture of the art. 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.
“While sight is not a prerequisite for success, equal access to information is,” said National Federation of the Blind president Mark Riccobono. “The next great frontier in achieving this goal is access to images, not merely to words describing them. As a blind father with both blind and sighted children, it thrills me that my family will be able to explore and appreciate great works of art, photographs, and other images together.”
Riccobono continued, “Too often people invent ways of describing art to blind people rather than creating authentic means for the blind to perceive visual imagery in nonvisual ways. This technology opens up new avenues for exploration and understanding and will enhance the experience for everyone. This technology also has the potential to allow greater participation by the blind in a wide variety of fields, especially the visual arts and STEM subjects.”
The goal for the process is to raise $500,000 by the night of Dec. 9. If the goal is met, those funds would be used to grow the company’s staff, technology, and production capabilities. More specifically, the manufacturing phase will demand more fabricating, printing equipment, computers, technicians, and working space. Should the campaign exceed its $500,000 goals, the extra funds would be used to scale the company’s production arrangement and its deliverable to the blind. More than $1,400 has been pledged to the project as of the afternoon of Oct. 28.
Filed Under: Industrial automation