Tactile maps are a great aid for people who are blind or partially sighted, helping them to orient themselves and to plan routes. Using Touch Mapper, you can easily create custom outdoor maps for any address of your choice. You can either order an affordable 3D print (basic map for 35 euros, about USD40), or 3D-print the map yourself at no charge.
Need maps different from our standard self-serve options? Don't hesitate to email us.
What is the map like?
- Roads of all size. Pedestrian roads are higher than others, because they are more important for the blind.
- Waterbodies (with wavy surface, but narrow streams as lines)
- Selected address (or entered coordinates) marked with a cone
- North-east corner marked to indicate correct orientation
Where does map data come from?
Touch Mapper uses OpenStreetMap data. Although this is usually an excellent source, accuracy of the maps cannot be guaranteed. The most common problem is missing buildings. You may use the 3D preview to verify if the map will fit your requirements. If important features are missing, you may freely add them to OpenStreetMap using the Edit button at the top. Unfortunately commercial map data sources like Google Maps can't be used, because they don't allow required type of access to their data.
Why print tactile maps?
Tactile maps can benefit many different user groups.
- People who are blind or partially sighted: better orientation and route planning
- Outdoor tourist attractions: better service for customers who are blind or partially sighted
- Public areas such as parks and playgrounds: tactile maps can help visitors who are blind or partially sighted to enjoy the park more independently.
- Orientation and mobility specialists: to help clients to build a mental map of an area more easily
Printing maps in multiple parts
The map can be printed by almost any 3D printer, including affordable hobbyist devices.
If you print at a 3D printing service other than Playful Pixels, the most important thing to pay attention to are the roads. Some services may consider them too narrow to print.
If you print using your own 3D printer, use layer thickness of 0.25 mm or 0.3 mm. The base is 0.6 mm thick, and it's enough to print it in two layers. Two top layers and one horizontal shell are enough. You may want to print the top layer quite slowly to get smooth surfaces. If you use Simplify3D slicer, you will need to invoke "Separate Connected Surfaces" to get a correct print. Printing time for a 17 cm map with the base printed in two layers is around 3–4 hours.
About Touch Mapper
My name is Samuli Kärkkäinen. I created Touch Mapper after learning about the challenges faced by people who are blind or partially sighted when travelling independently, and realizing how 3D printing combined with freely available map data can help. I have integrated Touch Mapper with Playful Pixels' 3D printing service to make buying the maps as easy and affordable as possible.
I want to make Touch Mapper as good as possible, and user feedback is key in that. If you have any questions or suggestions for improvement, please
3D printing by . Address search . Map data by OpenStreetMap.