Innovation That Matters

Project 3D prints photographs to keep memories alive for the blind

Sport & Fitness

Singapore's PIRATE3D has used 3D printed models as a memory aid for blind people, enabling them to feel moments from their past.

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The world is becoming an increasingly visual one thanks to the advent of computers and touchscreen displays, which are now embedded into our daily lives. For people without vision, their environment is one that needs to be heard and felt, meaning that core aspects of life are becoming closed off. We recently wrote about the Japanese government’s project to 3D print contoured maps for the blind, demonstrating how new tech can actually benefit those with sight problems. Now Singapore’s PIRATE3D is hoping to use 3D printed models as a memory aid for blind people, enabling them to feel moments from their past.

In order to advertise its Buccaneer 3D printer, the company created an experiment called Touchable Memories. Developed by creative agency LOLA, the project worked with 5 participants with visual impairments and asked them to talk about a personal memory of something important in their life. The responses ranged from childhood moments to album covers, to a single shot of film made by a now-blind director of photography. PIRATE3D then used software and a 3D printer to render old photographs and artwork in 3D.

Watch the reactions from the participants below:

Although Touching Memories was created primarily as a promotion for PIRATE3D, the project shows how 3D printing can have an incredible effect in opening up experiences for those without sight. Are there ways in which the technology could be used in other ways, perhaps to help those with Alzheimer’s or dementia?



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