Pirate3D’s 3-D printed photos help the blind see

3D printed photographs let the blind see

Photographs are visual reminders of past events, at least for those of us who can see. Scan a stack and stimulate long-forgotten memories. But what artifacts help the visually impaired to stroll through their histories?

Singapore-based tech company Pirate3D is helping the blind to “see” photographs through their innovative 3D printing project, “Touchable Memories”.  It began as an experiment in which regular print photographs are 3D printed into sculptures. Just as Braille allows the blind to interpret written text, this project intends to allow them to interpret photographs.  Now the blind get to experience photographs in their own way.

3D printed photographs 4The image above is the cover art of a blind musician’s album. He specified the concept to the artist, but relied on trust and verbal description to conjure up an image of the final artwork. Through 3D printing, and his sense of touch, he is now able to know what the cover art looks like. (See image of 3D “photo” below.)

3D printed photo Pirate3D

A former Director of Photography, blinded as an adult,  got the chance to know how a scene from his film turned out. A woman got to relive a long-ago ski trip, childhood memories popped back into life as she touched the three-dimensional family “portrait”.

3D printed photographs 2

3D printed photographs 1Still another flashed back to a fancy dress party, recalling instantly the funny cone hats she and her sister wore when she felt the tiny sculpture in her hands.

3D printed photographs 3

Check out this moving video:

Three dimensional imaging is growing fast in applications to daily life.  Originally, products focused on to small, wearable jewelry items. There have been questionable applications such as art student Yariv Goldfarb’s plastic poop and Cody Wilson’s printed guns. The technology aspires to use in bio-medical engineering and on-demand production of spare parts for space missions. Green Prophet’s brought you environmental examples of its potential, as in UAE renewable energy giant Masdar’s printer for making solar cells.

While this story has little to do with green living, nor in fact, with the Middle East (although the featured blind musician is Arab), we do applaud the power of new technology to significantly improve the human experience – and to make us smile.

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