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TCM Feedback: Haptic Lotus – A different take on accessible technologies

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Lynda Davies
7 March 2011

Absract: What would it take for blind people to enjoy a painting, a film or a play in a similar way to those who can see them? How could new technologies be designed to facilitate comparable cultural experiences that are accessible by all?

In this talk I will present our work with a theatre project that explores how rich cultural experiences for blind and sighted audiences can be created using novel haptic technologies – that is, technologies that are based on the sense of touch. In particular I discuss the development of the Haptic Lotus, a flower that opens and closes its petals as it accompanies people through the dark.

Presenter: Dr Janet VanDerLinden (MCT)

Date: 14 December 2011

Location: Jennie Lee Building Main Ambient Lab Ground Floor

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Shirley Evans
2:21pm 14 December 2011

I was lucky enough to engage with the Haptic Lotus at one of the performances in Battersea last year. it was a hugely memorable experience but unfortunately one whereby you have loads of ideas and they disappear in the daily furore of life. However I was lucky today to be in MK and see this session on the notice board.

What struck me was the attention to detail of the blind participants as to what they experienced. For me there was no real detail just a sense of a number of things going on around me. A little bit like it could be for a blind person in an art gallery where there are just paintings. What was fascinating was this addtional 'sense' of the lotus that was part of you and part of the performance -  a sort of oneness which as i said at the session today is quite distinct from 'assistive technologies' and indeed technologies. Very little is really seamless. Yes in-built technologies can be seamless such as with a tablet or mobile but actually there is still the hardware. The lotus is hardware indeed but also 'software' (soft hardware?) in a different sense of the word. Very very thought provoking and I have a load of ideas that have re-surfaced.

Lynda Davies
2:39pm 14 December 2011

I found it very interesting to discover Janet’s pivotal involvement in the haptic lotus project and am particularly interested in finding out how this technology which is appropriate to both sighted, blind and partially sighted people can be applied to further enhance our lives. The haptic lotus has the potential to give blind and partially sighted people freedom, no-one can put a value on that!

Best regards

Denise Pasquet (Research School)

Mark Gaved
3:04pm 14 December 2011

Very interested to be invited to muse on how augmented sensory devices can take participants to a " third space" which is neither an invitation of the sighted to the world of the vision impaired, or bringing visually impaired to the world of the sighted, but rather a new space for all.

I wondered about the tension of asking people to depend more on their other senses (apart from sight) to orientate themselves in a space, yet wear headphones, which presumably reduced their aural ability to navigate the area. Can anybody comment on research into this in the broader sense of providing audio experiences in spaces (particularly for the visually impaired who may rely to a greater degree on aural feedback to navigate spaces)?

I really liked the idea of haptic feedback for navigating spaces: has enthused me to research more on the topic!

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