A new campaign makes museum art more accessible to the visually impaired using haptic VR gloves to touch sculptures.
A campaign created by The National Gallery of Prague lets visitors with visual impairments experience sculpture art. The ‘Touching Masterpieces’ campaign uses haptic virtual reality gloves to perceive art through the sense of touch. This new design offers digital accessibility to art for those who have previously not been able to experience it. Iconic sculptures such as Michelangelo’s David and the head of Nerfertiti can now be experienced through touch.
The gloves are a collaborative design by Geometry Prague, the Leontinka Foundation and NeuroDigital. The design stimulates tactile responses using multi-frequency technology. Vibrotactile actuators embedded in the gloves send vibrations which activate the pressure receptors in the wearer’s somatic sensory system. To create the experience, laser scans of sculptural masterpieces were taken. Using these scans, 3D models were created in a virtual space. The vibrations sent to the wearer vary depending on the sculpture’s shape and texture.
Launched on March 23, the ‘Touching Masterpiece’ campaign is expanding the accessibility of art and promoting inclusivity. As museums all over the world do not permit visitors to touch the art on display, this new innovation offers something previously unattainable to the blind. Other innovations that aid the visually impaired include a vibrating cap that alerts swimmers when to change direction. Another example is a camera that creates 3D photos so that images can be seen through touch.
This innovation has also been featured in the report ‘The Future of Immersive Content’, which was inspired by recent research conducted by our partner Digital Catapult, the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre. Download the full report here.