Glance at an old photograph, and all of a sudden the memories come rushing back: The ski trip you took with your family as a child; the first time you rode a bike without training wheels; a beloved grandparent, perhaps.
Simple, right? Not for the blind, who are unable to "see" the photo in question. That's the issue Pirate3D, a 3-D printer manufacturing company, aims to address with their "Touchable Memories" experiment.
In a video released last week, the company explored the power of recreating photos for the blind with a 3-D printer, extruding them in plastic so they, too, could have a tangible means to relive treasured memories. The video follows five seeing-impaired individuals as they recall memories which one woman, Daniela, describes as "almost like dreams, like a gust of wind -- there and it's gone."
The emotional impact of the 3-D photographs cannot be overstated, as each of the individuals clearly, vividly relives each particular memory as they explore the plastic models.
"There were very long silences while we saw emotions wash over their faces as if they were being transported in time, but Daniela was perhaps who stands out the most," project lead Fred Bosch told FastCompany of the experiment. "She chose a memory that not only brought her back to her childhood and the ski holiday she spent with her family, but also reminded her of intimate details that she had forgotten, like the wool cap she was wearing at the time and the crunch of the snow beneath her boots."