J. Walter Thompson has invented ‘touchable ink’ to help visually impaired

J. Walter Thompson Bangkok, in collaboration with Samsung and the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, Thammasat University in Thailand, has created a tactile ink that it hopes will improve the ability of visually impaired people to read printed items.

The invention is now being test-printed for the Thailand Association for the Blind and, if successful, could be used by printers to make products and packaging more accessible for the blind.

The project represents a wider trend towards advertising agencies becoming involved in projects that are rooted in social good. Just this week Denstu Aegis launched fortysix, an agency geared to do just that.

According to J. Walter Thompson, the project grew out of research carried out between the agency’s creative and research department into the needs of visually impaired people.

Parattajariya Jalayanateja, managing director of J. Walter Thompson Bangkok, said: “Touchable Ink emerges as an answer to the blind’s needs,” she pointed out. “To learn and broaden their scale of the world, people with visual impairments depend largely on braille code. However, braille embossers available in the market are many times more expensive than normal printers, and not every visually impaired person can afford one of them.

The ink can be used in normal printers, which means it reduces the cost from around 100,000 Thai Baht to 2,000.

Dr. Nopparat Plucktaveesak, head of department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, Thammasat University, said: “This Touchable Ink innovation is such a big [source of] pride. It is a Thai invention that, with continuing support and development further on, has the potential to benefit visually impaired people worldwide. It would enable the blind people to print from a normal printer with prices starting at less than THB 2,000, instead of braille embosser which costs at least THB 100,000. Our Department of Chemistry and J. Walter Thompson Bangkok are now in process to patent this innovation.”

The project was carried out with equipment support and R&D consulting from Thai Samsung Electronics.

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