Virtual museum with 'touchable' artifacts wins place at Innovate UK 2017

17 October 2017

'Touch and discover' museum | Credit: GALLEZEUM
'Touch and discover' museum | Credit: GALLEZEUM

An international museum experience, which allows visitors to ‘touch’ and learn about priceless objects, has won a place at the UK’s top technological innovation showcase at the National Exhibition Centre.

Innovate UK, the annual showcase of top cutting-edge ideas, brings the brightest and boldest UK innovators together to inspire businesses, individuals and government to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

GALLEZEUM (The Touch and Discover Collection) enables everyone to access artworks from around the world from the comfort and convenience of their local museum, library or college.

The brainchild of Stoke-on-Trent based artist, teacher and inventor Christopher Dean, it takes Virtual Reality into new realms of the senses. You don't just see ancient sculptures, contemporary vases and famous paintings, but you can feel them too.

Chris’s company, Touch And Discover Systems Ltd, is one of just 100 companies nationwide to be selected as one of the best innovative ideas on the market.

Chris has taken Haptics technology, used in the aerospace and manufacturing industry, to deliver a tactile and entertaining cultural experience – partnered with top international industry haptics experts Virtalis, meaning a combination of art and industry.

For the first time it provides a safe and secure shared space, a worldwide digital publishing platform, for international galleries and museums, historic attractions and universities worldwide to reach ever wider audiences.

'Touch and discover' museum | Credit: GALLEZEUM
'Touch and discover' museum | Credit: GALLEZEUM

Manchester Museum is already using the technology to help people explore its collection; it was this summer that the collaboration won an international Jodi award for Digital Accessibility for All.

Chris said GALLEZEUM is all about breaking down the glass barriers between people and art.

“Artworks are all too often shut away behind glass to protect them. But everyone wants to touch great artworks and historic objects: fossils, sculptures, crowns and ancient pots. With this boundary-breaking virtual reality technology in their hands, the cultural explorer connects with the history and culture of the whole world. This technology puts the world’s collections right there in front of you."

Said physiotherapist and culture enthusiast Andy Mackenzie, who will be at Innovate UK demonstrating the technology live:

“GALLEZEUM has been a revelation. As a visually impaired person, it allows me to feel the shape and texture of valuable and rare artifacts, to get a sense of them as real objects. The audio interpretation provides extra texture and detail to this fascinating experience. This really will open up a world of new opportunities for people like me,” he said.

For more information, visit this link from GALLEZEUM.

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