Blind people can ‘see’ with the help of 3D printing

A group of undergraduates at Harvard have a project called “Midas Touch”: Use 3D printing to help the blind “see” what they cannot actually see.
They have one the runners-up award at the Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge at Harvard University.

For the visually impaired, the basic problem with art is that they can’t see it. But with a project called “Midas Touch” a group of Harvard kids say they have a fix: Use 3D printing to help the blind “see” what they cannot actually see.

“We want to bridge the gap between the visually impaired and the visual world of art,” Constantine Tarabanis, one of the brains behind the project, told me.

Basically, what Midas Touch does is take a flat image — say, of “Starry Night” — and use 3D printing to add layers of texture to it, creating an image that’s half painting, half relief sculpture. Essentially, Midas Touch takes the visual nature of art and translates it to a physical world that the visually impaired can understand.

Midas Touch says its work is like “painting in 2.5 dimensions”

As result, its a bit tough to fully understand or even convey what we’re talking about here — and somehow, I’m fine with that: In fact, the inability to describe Midas Touch is in its own way a meta-reference to what the project is trying to accomplish. How do you understand something that you can’t see?

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