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Spacemex: repurposing 3d printers as spatial output device for blind and visually impaired

LOCATION: Sputnik, TEL , Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 17th floor

Date/Time: 11.08.2015, 11:00-12:00

SPEAKER: Saiganesh Swaminathan (TU Berlin)


Current spatial output devices for the visually impaired are characterized by two properties. (1) Everything is assembled from dots, and (2) Space is expensive. These devices compensate for the lack of space by constantly updating the display – a questionable approach given that blind and visually impaired users require a lot of time to reorient after any display change. 

To overcome these constraints, we built Spacemex, a device based on a 3D printer attached to a large scale drafting table. Since this setup only uses one actuator (the print head) it scales easily to different sizes and is low cost. In addition, Spacemex allows users to interact with tactile content by tracking the position of their hands on the display area using an overhead camera. 

We demonstrate Spacemex with a range of sensemaking applications which lets users perform spatial activities such as exploring maps and exploring hierarchical information in trees.

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