Most of us take our vision for granted. Many of us wake up, walk to the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee, and then jump on our tablets or computers to check out the latest news that interests us most. In doing so, we have at our finger tips a vast collection of billions of images and videos, which tell us a story in a way that spoken words could not possibly compete with. It is said that a picture is worth 1000 words, and most people see hundreds of images each day. What if you didn’t have the means to even see one picture, ever?
That’s what those who are visually impaired have to deal with every day of their lives. They can listen to words, and read via braille, but are missing out on so much in the process. What if there was a way for the blind to feel what a famous actor, or monument looked like? Would that give them a better understanding of the world around them? One Lithuanian library thinks so, and has set out on a mission to 3D print models of famous people, well known buildings like the Taj Mahal and Reims Cathedral, as well as local buildings such as schools. In doing so, they hope to give the visually impaired another means of collecting information so that they too can understand the world in a more detailed manner.
The exhibition, which is currently on display at the Kaunas library for the blind in Lithuania, was organized by UKMC (Užsienio kalbų mokymo centras) in hopes of exploring new ways in which 3D printing can eliminate the divide felt by the visually impaired on a daily basis.
The project, which has been backed by a dozen different well-known Lithuanian actors, businessmen, and musicians, is certainly one of a kind. The idea was born, volunteers recruited and celebrities gathered at the robotics club in Vilnius. Many of these backers had volunteered their time to get 3D printed themselves. This was all done without access to an actual 3D scanner. Instead a company called Gaminu used multiple cameras to photograph each participant, transferring those photos to a powerful computer, equipped with specialized software, which was able to stitch those images together via photogrammetrical reconstruction algorithms, and make a 3D printable model.
So what and who exactly are being 3D printed? One of the more famous people, known worldwide, is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who sat down and agreed to be photographed during his recent visit to Lithuania. He has also agreed to make his likeness available in 3D printed form, free of charge. In addition, several other well known individuals including GetJar founder Ilja Laurs, Lithuanian theater actor and singer, Andrius Kaniava, and singer Domantas Razauskas were photographed and printed.
Even more incredible is the fact that the President of Lithuanian, Dalia Grybauskaitė has agreed to be scanned, but would require that the cameras and all the equipment be brought to the Presidential palace, which could be quite a task. Below you will find Grybauskaitė looking in on at the photograph session.
The exhibition will be on display in the Kaunas library until August 5th, at which point it will be set up in Šiauliai, Lithuania until the start of September, followed by and exhibit in Vilnius, Lithuania. It is certainly heartwarming to see this incredible technology, providing a tool for those less fortunate to understand the world around them better. Let’s hear your thoughts on this incredible application of 3D printing, in the 3D printing for the blind forum thread on 3DPB.com.