The ring that shows art to unsighted people
It happens at times that a graduation final thesis is not merely the endpoint of studies, but also the beginning of a career. As demonstrated by Tooteko, the startup that transforms tactile models of works of art into speaking models. Founded by the architects Fabio D’Agnano and Serena Ruffato, and Gilda Lombardi who deals with communication, this project was inspired by a Master in Digital Architecture project at the IUAV university in Venice. This wearable device, which looks like a ring, allows unsighted or hyposighted people to receive adequate knowledge of works of art on display in museums, thanks to relevant and localized audio information.
A Smart Ring
Already being used inside the Ara Pacis building in Rome, Tooteko consists of three basic elements: a hi-tech ring, a tactile support fitted with an NFC tag (an acronym that stands for Near Field Communication) plus an app for tablets or smartphones. The hi-tech ring reads the NFC tags, which are small adhesive labels containing a chip, and then, thanks to the TootekoApp, communicates via wireless with a smartphone or tablet. During tactile navigation of supports, when the finger reaches a hotspot that is recognizable thanks to a button with a Braille code, the ring identifies the NFC tag it contains and, via the app, activates an audio track relating to the point touched. In this way, each hotspot corresponds to some audio information relating to the detail touched.
How Tooteko works
To use the wearable device, it is necessary to install a specific app on smartphones or tablets; this makes the device dialoguing with the ring. The medium-long term goal of the project is to build up a network of museums that house tactile audio replicas of the most important works. However, in many cases, the NFC label could also be applied to other objects of popular interest.