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Doubts about the Touch Sight camera - Visually impaired photographers have raised questions about a camera designed specifically for them.
A few weeks ago Samsung won a gold medal in the communication tools concept category of the International Design Excellence Awards 2008. They won the award for their Touch Sight camera, which is designed specifically for those who are visually impaired. Many people have praised the camera for it's design. Europes leading site for technology, Tech Digest called the camera amazing. They said: "Imagine you can't see very well and you take a picture of your 30th birthday cake with the Touch Sight camera - well, suddenly you can feel/look at the picture. But now replace the image of a birthday cake with the face of your first born child. Yeah now it's just amazing, isn't it." Many other technology sites also gave the camera similar praise but surprisingly the people who the camera is aimed at have had quite different views.
"Personally I feel it's a silly idea and I would never dream of using it," said Ken Keen, member of the Disabled Photographer's Society.
Ken already takes photographs the 'old fashioned way' and he feels the camera wouldn't be successful.
"I like to create my pictures and I would get no satisfaction from using this sort of camera," said Ken.
The camera uses touch technology and features a flexible Braille sheet which replaces the normal LCD screen. The Braille sheet allows whatever the photographer has taken to be embossed onto it, allowing visually impaired users to feel their work. An idea Ken feels just wont work.
"The picture doesn't look like that in real life and photographers want to capture what's real. Personally I don't think any serious blind photographer would use this."
Denis Deasy is another photographer who helps the charity Action For Blind People and he too has reservations about the camera.
"People have tried to make tactile maps for visually impaired people before and due to the amount of information the maps contained the version for visually impaired people had to be simplified and sized down. This meant the maps were less detailed and I feel the same would happen to the picture that appears on the camera."
The camera also records three seconds of audio to help the user locate photographs and the pictures can also be uploaded onto the internet or even sent to another Touch Sight camera, ideas which again the two photographers found faults with.
"By taking photographs digitally you have to put them on a computer and staring at a screen is no good for someone who has sight problems. This is a camera designed by someone who can see, they don't know what it's like to be blind," said Ken.
"As a partially sighted person, I would rather have a camera with a large display screen which would able me to use the display screen rather than having to use a separate viewing / focus viewer. Large raised tactile buttons and the option to have all the camera's settings and menus read out to me would also be something that would interest me," said Dennis.
Both photographers have praised designer Chueh Lee and his team for their efforts as they both feel it's a nice idea that just has a few problems. Similar praise also came from Iris Darel-Shinar who runs voluntarily photographic courses for the blind.
"I was really excited to hear about the camera, I thought it was an interesting idea," said Iris.
As of yet there are no plans to release the camera but it will be interesting to see the reaction if Samsung ever decide to make this product reality.