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Sight Unseen - Exhibit That Blind Can "See"

  • Date: 2016/03/21 (Rev. 2018/04/30)
  • 3DPhotoWorks LLC*
  • Synopsis : CMHR is the first museum in the world to showcase three-dimensional tactile fine art printing developed by 3DPhotoWorks.

Main Document

Canadian museum presents exhibit that blind people can "see" - Breakthrough technology by U.S. start up 3DPhotoWorks LLC enables the visually impaired to experience art on an equal basis with the sighted.

Tactile Feedback is defined as a type of Haptic Feedback, and is generally divided into two different classes: Kinesthetic and Tacticle.

Tactile Feedback means the things you can feel through your sense of touch. Your touch sense provides your brain the ability to feel things such as vibration, pressure, texture etc.

Kinesthetic Feedback means the things you can feel from sensors in your muscles, joints, tendons etc. Kinesthetic feedback tells your brain the approximate size of an object, the objects weight, and how you are holding it.

Haptic Feedback is defined as a combination of both Tactile and Kinesthetic Feedbacks.

Sight Unseen, a major exhibition of fine art photographs by some of the world's most accomplished blind photographers recently opened at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg.

CMHR is the first museum in the world to showcase three-dimensional tactile fine art printing developed by 3DPhotoWorks of Chatham, New York. This recently patented technology is considered a major breakthrough for people with vision loss - allowing them to "see" photographs and fine art with their fingertips.

Inspired by research conducted by neuroscientist Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita of the University of Wisconsin, 3D tactile printing is based on the concept of neuroplasticity.

As Dr. Bach-y-Rita's research within the blind community confirms, "The brain is able to use tactile information coming from the fingertips as if it were coming from the eyes. 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."

Using their fingertips, the blind experience 3D Tactile Fine Art Prints through tactile feedback.

This feedback creates a mental picture that allows them to "see" the art, often for the first time.

To further assist in creating a "mental picture," sensors are embedded throughout the prints that when touched, activate custom audio that describes what is transpiring at that exact coordinate.

3DPhotoWorks has devoted seven years to the development of this exciting new technology with the goal of creating a worldwide network of museums, science centers and institutions willing to serve the world's blind population with art, photographs and the visual aspects of STEM.

The museum had a representative selection of the exhibit turned into innovative, 3D images by former LIFE magazine photographer John Olson, the co-founder of 3DPhotoWorks.

"This technology allows the blind to experience images directly, without depending on another person's interpretation," Olson said at a media preview of the exhibition in Winnipeg.

"The words most frequently used by blind people when they describe this experience are 'freedom', 'independence' and 'equality'. That's really important - especially when you consider that one person in North America goes blind every 11 minutes, and there are 285 million blind and low-vision individuals worldwide."

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