This camera is Outta Sight!

I will admit, upon first reading and laying eyes on this design I almost laughed out loud. Not because of the design, but for its intended purpose. Designer Chueh Lee over at Samsung China has designed what may be the worlds first camera for the blind, the “Touch Sight”. Yup, you read me right…a camera for the blind. Chueh actually makes a good argument for such a design. Chueh notes:

“Touch Sight is a revolutionary digital camera designed for visually impaired people. Simple features make it easy to use, including a unique feature which records sound for three seconds after pressing the shutter button. The user can then use the sound as reference when reviewing and managing the photos. Touch Sight does not have an LCD but instead has a lightweight, flexible Braille display sheet which displays a 3D image by embossing the surface, allowing the user to touch their photo. The sound file and picture document combine to become a touchable photo that is saved in the device and can be uploaded to share with others–and downloaded to other Touch Sight cameras.”

One interesting aspect discovered by Chueh in his research is that holding the camera to the forehead is the optimal position for this device. He discovered that “at the Beit Ha’iver (Center for the Blind) in Herzliya, Israel, the instructor who teaches a photography course for the visually impaired discovered that holding the camera to the forehead, like a third eye, is the best way for them to stabilize and aim the camera. The instructor also found the visually impaired have no problems estimating distances, since their sense of hearing is especially sharp. Every rustle of wind in the trees catches their attention and can be used to judge distances. Other senses come into play as well. The heat of the sun or a lamp in a living room, for example, signals a direct source of light. They regularly use their non-visual senses to feel the world and manifest it into a mental photograph.”

This is simply a wonderful idea and I hope it actually makes it to market, not only for the blind of the world but I personally can’t wait to try this out with my girlfriend and literally feel our private photo sessions. Yup, I am a perv deal with it.

Designer: Chueh Lee, Liqing Zou, Ning Xu, Saiyou Ma, Dan Hu, Fengshun Jiang & Zhenhui Sun

119 Comments

  • deanween8 says:

    I agree with you, Anthony, in every aspect of this design. I DID think I was going to laugh at this concept, just because we all “look” before we read into something like another product that’s a camera.

    This concept was strategically and beautifully planned down to a “T.” I love the form and colors added to the camera, as well as the braille screen and the way the user holds it is great. I hope this is put into production as well, this IS a product that can be put into the hands of the visually impaired and really create a new experience for them….and thats why this product is so beautiful. Great work.

  • Gavbot says:

    I think this is really cool, but obviously I wouldn’t know just how much a blind person can derive from a brail sequence.

    I imagine there would have to be so many bumps to give the user a good idea of what the photo was of.

  • cowpop says:

    I’m still confused at how it works, but I’m glad to see more and more technology helping the less-fortunate.

  • Adisah says:

    I hope it works. Sounds like it’s going to be in production for quite some time. Although, I’m not blind there are others who are and I think this would be cool for them.

  • se7a7n7 says:

    Awesome!

    This idea should progress into a live display that blind people could you at all times. It would put the image on a dynamic alloy screen that was able to change shape. Then as newer models come out, the speed and resolution would increase.

  • D_V_D says:

    simple, elegant, well thought out.. something the “seeing” takea for granted is a big challenge for the less fortunate. two thumbs up Chueh for spending the time and efforts to address the needs of this special group. I surely hope the decision makers at the corporate ivory tower will commit to this beyond just a concept and actually build the device. I can just see it now.. YouTube for the sight impaired through this device…

  • This design is beautiful. However, cameras for the blind have been around for some time: for instance check out http://www.seeingwithsound.com (using sound), http://www.wicab.com and http://www.eyeplus2.com (using touch)

  • em says:

    Wait, I dont get it. What is this display going to ‘display’. Couse Braile text uses combination dots to represent letters… Sooo they want to map photo to this his-res ‘brail-like’ display? Wonder how they gonna make it, and even if they succed i doubt it would be great use for blind ppl…
    It would be better if they think about real-time text to brail scanner or smth like that.

  • Brian says:

    Neglects one simple fact – most sight challenged individuals do not know how to read braille. They rely on recorded books and talking computer programs. This seems like it’s in the same family as that “wonder straw” for use in rural Africa and Asia – a lot of assumptions, little research, an interesting form factor and most left out in the cold because it doesn’t address any of the core needs presented.

  • D.D.A. says:

    I forwarded the link to your website to my colleague who is blind, and she was unable to access it.

  • craighyatt says:

    Oliver Sacks’s book “An Anthropologist on Mars” (see [www.oliversacks.com]) describes how blind people perceive the world differently from sighted people. I think the idea is interesting, but not sure how a blind person would really interpret the raised image. I take photos on my vacation so I can re-experience the vacation later when I look at the photos. Because I process the world visually, just an image of a sunrise is enough to bring back the experience. Now, imagine you are a blind person “looking” at a sunrise over the ocean. You can feel the change in warmth, feel the breeze, hear the grass and gulls, taste the salt, and so forth. All of these sensations make up your memory of that moment. My guess is that a textured image of that sunrise would pale in comparison to all those other remembered sensations. In other words, I am not sure that a textured image would recall the experience in the same way that a photo serves a sighted person. Any blind commenters want to chip in here? What do you think?

    • Robobagins says:

      Did you not read the part where it records three seconds of sound after the picture is taken? So that textured picture of a sunset at the beach would have the sound of waves and maybe bird calls. Just because visual images induces sensory memory in you doesn’t mean it works the same way in others.

      Personally, I think this is completely awesome.

    • gojazz says:

      Are you asking for blind commenters? Do you think many blind people are browsing around reading this?

    • gojazz says:

      Are you asking for blind commenters? Do you think many blind people are browsing around reading this?

  • mik says:

    Well, for me its completely stupid idea. Constructor of this toy forgot the most important thing – blind people do not know what is light and what it does, so any representation of real world in form of photography (graphics made by light) is useless. Apart from light theres more things that blind do not understand for example what is perspective. They cant realize that car standing far away can be smaller on photography than man standing close to camera, just because all objects are for them in 1:1 scale. So … this camera will record such things like perspective, light, dusty air, reflections, colors, which means nothing for targeted users, and show that all using very low resolution interface… It wont work.

    • dami says:

      It is not because blind people does not see light that this is not important to them. They live in a real world where light makes sense….as perspective also! they all affecting them…

      It is worth….and there will be other versions for this camera..improving it’s features!

    • Well, I happen to be a blind photographer and artist, and I would love a camera like this, so I hope it reaches production. At the moment I make the majority of my work with a Leica M8 and a Canon 1DS + tilt shift lens. Having a tactile and sound interface would make this a fun camera to carry around. I also want to remind “mik” that only 10% of all blind people are completely sightless, and that the majority of blind people acquired their blindness later in life. I damn well know what perspective is, and having the means to at least check part of the image and be able to compose using a tactile interface would be a godsend. So for me it would work fine. Sadly, many of these prototypes never get produced, and this will be no exception. But it’s nice to dream.

    • NENA says:

      I have macular degeneration. My sight is slowing getting worse. You have forgotten that not all people are born blind. There are billions of people who loose their sights to desease and accidents. I for one am happy that someone is trying to aid us. In a few years I will no longer be able to see, there is no cure. This would be a wonderful way to feel the image of my son play baseball, graduate from high school etc. My son is currently four, and has taken a huge responsiblity for been my sight or eye as he would say. We just need a little however form it comes.

    • Rebecca says:

      Well, a lot of stupid ideas have turned into ingenious inventions…I was talking to my friend yesterday, who was sad because the photos taken by a friend of her daughter’s 6th birthday party were all dark. She and her husband are both blind(she since the age of 6, he since the age of 27) They have a beautiful “sighted” daughter, for whom they would like to have photos…for the daughter. They could care less for themselves. I hope it works. They’re both self-sufficient in so many ways, it would be great if they could take their own photoss.

  • Mom Of VI Child says:

    I am soooo glad that the world is not entirely composed of people like mik. You know, you never know when the day will come that you too will need to rely on this type of technology. I am so greatful that Lee was blessed with this awesome idea and I too hope that it will be produced sometime soon.

  • Cindy says:

    I am also a blind photography and thank you Lauri(?) for pointing out the 10% are totally blind and mik is totally off his rocker. I obtained a BA in photography before learning that I am losing my sight. I would like to commend Lee on this idea and until I have my hands actually on the device, cannot express what are definite keeping points and what needs to be improved.

    In addition, I would like to invite Lee to contact me for further discussion of this item since I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind and we can definitely provide you with test subjects and perhaps they would like to partner or know of funding to help this project along.

  • Wilson Reinoso says:

    A lot of greeting from Quito, Ecuador.

    Hi, my name is Wilson and I´m blind since I was born. I would like to know how to get this camera?

    Thanks a lot for thei nformation.

    God bless you,

    Wilson

  • The BAT! says:

    You greatly underestimate blind people, and indeed the versatility of the human brain if you imagine we don’t have any idea of what light is or how it goes. See my blind photography page for more….

    http://www.batfromhell.co.uk/blindphotography.html

    Perspective? Well, you can draw an analogy with stereo sound. Let’s say you stand in front of two parallel railway tracks, each with a train running at the same distance away from you. As the trains go away from you, they become fainter in sound and appear to get closer together. The fact that they don’t crash gives you a clue.

    Someone who sussed this out was the blind (no eyes, seriously blind!) Turkish painter, Esref Armagan. He doesn’t always get it quite right, but he’s very much got the idea of perspective, including some buildings that are tricky to represent even for a sighted person.

    I have a web page about him, too….

    http://www.batfromhell.co.uk/esref.html

    To call this sensory substitution aid a “toy” is thoroughly disingenuous, and I hope you’re not someone who could be involved in marketing it (or saying no to it).

    The display, as I understand it, gives the user a live raised tactile display that does change as the scene changes in front of the camera. This is nothing to do with Braille, which is essentially a way of representing text characters. It’s very misleading to describe this as a “Braille camera”. It seems it’s more like a mobile tactile tablet.

    I do take photos myself, but as I have a little remaining sight, I can still use a conventional camera, give or take some rather different ways of using it, such as aiming at the sound of a flock of birds, or the movement of trees in the wind.\\\

    Still, it would be fascinating to try one of these TouchSight cameras. There isn’t anything else quite like this on the market, and I’m sure it would attract a relatively small, but enthusiastic audience.

  • Vincent says:

    I am a reasearch of accessibility for blind users. and I have sent a email to the designer, chueh.lee@samsung.com,but failed, cause the wrong email address. so does anybody know his contact? pls tell me, thanks. my eaml: vincentzeng at hotmail.com

  • dryson says:

    Can this device be used to convey an idea that is not provable with todays psychics but where a visual format of the idea could be viewed?

  • Ann says:

    Does the camera output an embossed image or does the users feel raised bumps on the camera itself? If it outputs an image, how does the sound stay linked with the image?

  • Ann says:

    Does the camera output an embossed image or does the users feel raised bumps on the camera itself? If it outputs an image, how does the sound stay linked with the image?

  • With 3-d printers an upload could produce very interesting Bas- reliefs in larger sizes than braille screen. I had the same idea- to use bat -sonar to do scans and then some kind of 2-d printer to produce them, or a surface that is pliable and woutld hold an 'image". Dot screen/braille seems a bit rough, I am sure this will continue and develop.
    daniel

  • With 3-d printers an upload could produce very interesting Bas- reliefs in larger sizes than braille screen. I had the same idea- to use bat -sonar to do scans and then some kind of 2-d printer to produce them, or a surface that is pliable and woutld hold an 'image”. Dot screen/braille seems a bit rough, I am sure this will continue and develop.
    daniel

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  • Luiz Esmiralha says:

    Where did you come up with this statistics? Most blind people in the WORLD (you know, that place outside your backyard) in fact DO read Braille. Most blind people don’t have the money to buy computers or recorded books. And most blind people want to read by themselves and not listen to someone reading to them.

  • Luiz Esmiralha says:

    They want to SHOW their photographs to OTHER people that can see! How about you spend some time with blind people before coming to your conclusions!

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  • dale says:

    My young friend is legally blind, and holds text 2 inches from her face to read. Could she use a regular digital camera to take a picture, then use the zoom to see details of far-away objects?

    Would an i-pad be better?

    Has anyone tried this?

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  • Hi there!

    My name is Natalia, I’m a product design student from Porto Alegre, Brazil, and I’m doing my university final project about visually-impaired and blind photographers. I did an online questionnaire that intents to understand better who are the blind photographers around the world and what kind of needs, expertises and desires they have. At the end of my project, my aim is to design a product that can somehow make an easier/better/stronger connection between people with visual disabilities and photography.

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