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3D Images for Blind People

Researchers Hirotsugu Yamamoto, Ryousuke Kujime and Shiro Suyama are producing "Warm 3D images" using thermal displays so blind people can explore 3D objects as volumes if not as stereoscopic images.

An array made of crossed mirrors composed of hollow apertures without substrates forms visible images that provide the sensory experience of warmth.

 thermal-3d-imaging 250px

 How it Works

Stereoscopic or 3D displays, such as 3DTV sets, allow a viewer to perceive the depth of an image with their eyes. However, much research has been dedicated to determining how to offer blind people, or individuals without stereoscopic vision, the opportunity to experience 3D effects at some degree.

A possible solution is to use the sense of heat: employ three-dimensionally localized heat spots that provide a thermal sensation when an individual walks through the 3D image. The three researchers aimed to realize thermal and visual aerial signage, a technique that forms a 3D pattern composed of heat and light in the air, without any physical hardware at the position of the sign. These warm 3D images can be used, for example, to display advertisements alongside a footpath or side walk. In addition to seeing these signs, users can feel them when their faces touch the thermal images.


The full research paper is available at the SPIE library (for 18$; 15$ for SPIE members). Reference : SPIE Proceedings, Volume 8643, 3D Displays, "Aerial LED signage by use of crossed-mirror array"). Read the summary in this free SPIE paper.

Hirotsugu Yamamoto

Hirotsugu Yamamoto received bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees from the University of Tokyo. In 1996, he joined The University of Tokushima, where he is currently an associate professor.

Source: SPIE.