Tooteko – a tactile conversation with art for the blind

By November 21, 2018August 5th, 2021sdg 10, sdg 9, technology

Tooteko is a thesis project turned reality. Serena Ruffato, CEO, explains how their device works: making art accessible to the blind and visually impaired by integrating tactile exploration with audio data. Deborah Tramentozzi shares her experience of a Canova statue with me.

Cristina: We’re in Rome in a space that is now a restaurant, but was once the studio of Antonio Canova. We’re here to tell you about a technological application that’s also an important human experience. Serena, how does the application you created work?

Serena Ruffato: This technology combines audio and touch to allow everyone, even the blind, to experience works of art. It uses this ring, an NFC sensor reader, to recognize the sensors we place on the art work and transmits audio information to a smartphone.

Cristina: Altering the art means that you work with copies.

Serena Ruffato: Absolutely, we take the original piece, select it, scan it, reproduce it with 3D printing and then apply our sensors.

Cristina: Deborah, tell us how you’re equipped to live this experience and what it tells you.

Deborah Tramentozzi: I’m wearing this ring, which has an antenna inside it. This antenna communicates with a tag that is placed here on the statue, which I will now touch with a finger. The moment I put it on the tag, the ring emits a vibration and communicates with the smartphone. Which will start an audio guide. Now I’ll show you how it works. This technology, by connecting the two senses that I use best – touch and hearing – allows me to have a vision, I like to call it that, of the work of art without any filters. I come from an artistic environment, so I have always experienced guided tours through the filter of another person, who gave me an idea allowing me to interpret the work of art. This way, it’s me and my personality who get an idea of ​​the work of art and I can literally see just how each of you would. I think this is a great gift because giving the blind the independence and freedom to choose to enter a museum, something that is second nature to everyone, for me is truly a frontier that I thought would be impossible. Can I ask you to close your eyes, and I’ll start the next tag and touch the statue with you?

Cristina: Absolutely, thank you. It’s exciting, because it also allows me to enter into a kind of empathic resonance with Deborah’s experience. We hope that this project will allow as many people as possible to experience art in this new way. Occhio al futuro

On air November 17, 2018