Access to museums for blind and visually impaired people through 3D technology
The project consortium consists of 7 partners, including museums, help organisations of blind and partially sighted people, and research institutions. Among research on copyright requirements and economic impact, VRVis is mostly involved in research about technologies and tactile models. Within the project several types of haptic media will be implemented through the use of different technologies. In a further step we will compare the haptic usability of the developed objects. In doing so we want to achieve a better understanding of which technology is more or less valuable for the use of blind and visually impaired people, as well as finding the most efficient and least expensive production methods using innovative technologies.
The investigated haptic output methods are:
- 3D replication: 3D replication of scanned objects is the most traditional method. They have a high tactile quality, but each replica has to be physically fabricated, yielding production costs and storage requirements for each replica produced. Digital touch can be added to these 3D replicas to release data and contextual information in a way that can be accessed by a visually impaired visitor through sound and images – dependent on the visual impairment.
- Virtual haptics: Virtual haptics is a way of making a physical connection with digital scans, without the need to produce them physically. Within AMBAVis we will investigate the Probos™ Interface which enables users to make contact with digitised museums objects in a virtual three-dimensional environment. The digitised objects will be presented with multimedia information which helps users to personally connect with the object, learn more about its shape and characteristics etc.
- Relief printing: We intend to develop a first prototype of a relief-printing device. It may print a haptic relief of a selected virtual object on-demand, which may be touched just like a physical replication, but may be erased and reused for the next print.
- Finger-tracking prototype:It is very valuable for blind and visually impaired visitors of museums to offer additional information during haptic interactions with exhibits, e.g. position-specific audio comments triggered by a digital touch interface. State of the art is nowadays that the touch sensors are included in a haptic exhibit. This approach has proven useful and content parameters can be updated, but physical sensors need to be integrated in the replica. In order to offer more flexibility in the use of additional information we will develop a new digital touch interface for physical objects that does not require any modification of the object anymore. As a consequence, it will be easily possible to change the interaction regions and the narrative without any modifications on the objects.