03 February 2020
Digital pictures in museums and galleries, accessible to blind and vision impaired.
Interview with Katarina Pavšek, designer of content at Feelif.
Can you tell us what you do?
In short, we digitalize existing exhibits (pictures or objects) from museums and galleries with the help of Feelif technology. We call this process feelifying. Final product is an interactive digital picture, that reacts to the touch of the user with various vibrations, realistic sounds and sound descriptions, based on which part of the screen the user is touching. We always create a version for people with poor vision, where the exhibit is presented in contrasting colors, so that people with poor sight easily differentiate between individual parts.
Who are these formats of pictures meant for?
We make feelified pictures with blind and vision impaired people (B&VI) in mind. The content is prepared, so that even if vision impaired people are holding Feelif device for the first time, they have an easy time using it. We accomplish that with descriptions, instructions and information buttons. Of course the basis for this is our software, with which we achieve that the user gets interactive information and that the exploration of exhibit is simple, intuitive and enjoyable for them. Precisely because of interactivity, realistic sounds, fascinating descriptions and often times witty responses that the user gets in touch, this makes the contents interesting also for people with good vision of all ages.
How do you decide which exhibits you will customize for B&VI?
Exhibit is picked by the customer, it is however our task to gather all the information that we want to show and to make the content accessible and enjoyable.
What is necessary to do, to make the exhibit »come alive«?
When we gather all the data about exhibit, we envision what all the user can sense on it. We first create picture adjusted for people with impaired vision and pick parts that we want to show. We find and tailor sounds, that will be accompanied by their desciptions and vibrations. We then start putting together a story. Every shown object is described. It receives its vibration and sound. Varying vibrations and colors are arranged in a way that blind user can feel and vision impaired can feel and see, that they moved to another part of the picture. Meanwhile the voice tells them what they are are touching. Realistic sound, that we hear after the description as we hold finger on the object for a time, is in that way a cherry on top. With these interactive experiences user is drawn to the atmosphere of the picture and has an even better idea of what is being presented.
What are the responses of users regarding the digital buttons like?
Responses of B&VI are phenomenal. We test our products with B&VI users, that help us make the final product genuinely polished. Most commonly we are told, that they can imagine precisely how the exhibit looks like. What they like the most is that they can decide themselves how in depth they want to familiarize themselves with the content. That is because our software shows more details on magnification, that are at first hidden. Picture can be magnified twice. The user can use a special gesture, that allows movement of magnified picture across the screen. This way they can see the whole exhibit piece by piece and create a big picture in their mind.
Reactions aren't remarkable only within B&VI. Users with good sight are presented with a new sensory experience, that they have never experienced before. That is good news for galleries and museums because besides the accessible content for B&VI they can also use this to promote something new and get more visitors this way.
Thank you for the dialogue.
If you are interested in multisensory exploration of exhibits, ask your local gallery or museum if exhibits of this kind are already available.
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