Gallezeum & The New Probos Console


Gallezeum - Innovating Access To Museum Collections Worldwide

Gallezeum is supported by The Probos Sensory Console which is a new user interface designed to harness haptic technology and to give a more sensory experience to users of all ages. We have developed this robust console to create a new 3D interactive platform which can attract further technical innovation and creative a versatile stage and environment where more applications can be developed. The tactile experience is surprisingly delicate and once you are familiar with it becomes intuitive. Gallezeum has been developed specifically for museums to showcase rare and unique objects which are precious. Now the World's collections can be accessed and experienced through tactile interaction anywhere, creating new more inclusive audiences. We have developed the system with Manchester Museum, Henshaw's Society for Blind People, with funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Gallezeum addresses many strategic aims of today's museums. It has been built on many years' experience in arts education, CAD modelling, 3D digital production technologies and the creation of high quality museum replicas. When you mention virtual reality many people think of purely visual systems using glasses. However haptic touch enabled system have been around for many years and these deliver a virtual physical connection with digital data. Museums and galleries are full of millions of objects which can be digitally scanned and then touched using the Probos Sensory Console.


We have developed a new digital platform harnessing haptic technology to enable visitors to interact with digitised museum collections. The platform could become the standard console on which we can present a sensory interactive experience, encouraging visitors to touch, discover and learn from digitised objects. These virtual objects have been accurately recorded from the real objects in collections worldwide and are supported by factual and interpretive information provided by the museums curators. This platform has real potential for museums and exhibitions all around the world where published collections are showcased or made available for loans and outreach programs. It is a platform on which to publish all kinds of 3D materials that feed curiosity and encourage learning through play. With the right investment this system is set to become a new digital dimension to a museum visit as well as being a real asset for museums offering more inclusive access and public engagement with collections, it’s a real sensory innovation. Here are the main components we have developed to make this new experience a reality.


Probos is the new haptic 3D platform that has been specially developed for public engagement in museums, libraries and other educational centres. We want to provide more inclusive access to digitised 3D archives and to develop new audiences for collections worldwide. We have developed Probos/VR to offer a new immersive sensory experience which can be surprisingly focused and very is different to the way we use computers in our daily lives. We have worked very closely with Manchester Museum and Henshaws Society for Blind People to develop this first system. It includes an interface developed to be tactile and a more inclusive framework on which to build future applications with more sensory experiences. The Console can be built into a gallery design or be portable for outreach events.


An iFynd is the name for a a complete published data set that can be experienced using the Probos console. This includes digitised museum objects but can potentially include 3D learning activities, training materials, science based research or for showcasing new 3D product designs. A museum object is scanned, digitised, encrypted and published along with audio visual materials some of which have to be discovered by the visitor. An iFynd can be selected from the growing collection which can only be viewed in the online catalog. It will then be installed on the Probos Console for you to experience it. iFynds can be converted into many languages making it a universal public platform for interacting with 3D Digital published materials worldwide


Gallezeum is the name for the new collection of iFynds created especially for the Probos Console. It showcases museum and gallery objects that would normally be seen and not touched. We have developed a new interactive experience, you are actively encouraged to touch the objects and closely examine their surface to uncover hidden information. Gallezeum's purpose made space station narrative creates a versatile new stage for rich multimedia presentation. It also includes a new tactile navigational system creating new spaces for a virtual museum visit. All the objects will have significant historical importance, we publish these for the museum owner who provides the curatorial information and who retain intellectual property rights. To The Gallezeum Collection


Manchester Museum has been an incredibly supportive partner in the development of this product which was sponsored by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation who gave us two grants to make this development possible. The Museum has two systems one Probos Console has been permanently on the gallery for 3 years and a portable system which has been used in outreach events. We have just completed a 2 year Erasmus AMBAVis Project with Austria, Germany and Slovakia evaluating haptic technologies that could benefit the visually impaired visitor. Manchester has also organised the focus group sessions over the last 5 years with Henshaws Society for Blind People and continues to develop new outreach programs


The Stavros Niarchos Foundation gave two grants to support the development of this haptic system. The first system was ready for the opening of the Ancient World Gallery. The second grant was to develop the interface further. In 2013 the work at Manchester Museum was shortlisted for the Museums + Heritage Innovations Award. In 2014 this work was awarded one of the 3 Innovative Practices Awards for Accessibility: Haptic and tactile museum experience from the Zero Project. The Zero Project is an initiative of the Essl Foundation, focusing on the rights of persons with disabilities globally In 2015 we were part of a 2 year Erasmus AMBAVis project which has just completed.


Manchester Museum has been pivotal in the development and trials of this system over the last six years. The VSA’s have also been very supportive of the system on the gallery and have helped us develop the best way to deliver this new system to the museum visitor. Manchester has provided five objects from their ancient world collection. They have also attracted the interest and support from other museums which include Yale Peabody Museum in America, with a 30 million year old fossil of a killer pig. The British Museum with a terracotta fragment from Cyprus and The Belvedere Museum and Gallery In Austria with a painting of The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

What people are saying about our new interactive experience

Here are a collection of comments made about Probos, Gallezeum and the Digital Museum collection
My experience with haptics was amazing, like a light being switched on in my damaged brain. I found examining art and objects in new formats tapped into mental/visual perception previously dormant. The experiences at the university rendered me elevated and animated, eager to share with my eye consultant and neuro-psychologist. I hope I have been able to articulate my experience in a manner that reaches others. I have monocular vision and don’t experience most depth perception following brain injury. I really enjoyed my experience at the university. It was incredibly uplifting. Thanks to all involved. Keep on researching! Bev Norris

Bev Norris

Henshaws Focus Group Member
What I remember of the Haptics technology was that it was very interesting and seemed quite easy to use once you got the hang of it. I felt that we were very involved and lots of questions were asked of us at the time. It was also good to see how enthusiastic you and Chris were about the whole project. Kindest regards Mai Ling

Mai Ling

Henshaws Focus Group Member
Over the past few years i have been involved in helping to evaluate the Haptic Probos and Digital Cat projects. As a visually impaired person, my role was to practically evaluate these Projects and give feedback. The Haptic Probos has been developed to give tactile feedback to museum artefacts that are not normally accessible to the general public. This device allows you to select an artefact from the museum library which appears on screen and also in haptic form. This device allowed me as a visually impaired person to feel the shape and texture of the object on show thus allowing me to get a true picture of the object. The Probos also had audible feedback and descriptions of the objects being felt which also enhanced the overall experience. This innovative device opens up many avenues for the visually impaired to access a variety of areas that were previously inaccessible. I would like to thank Sam and Chris for inviting me onto these projects and i feel that that both these projects have great potential in enhancing accessibility to museum artefacts for the visually impaired community. Andy Mackenzie Specialist Physiotherapist

Andy Mackenzie

Specialist Physiotherapist
Increasing learning experiences for children with autism The Grange School for Autism - Children and young people with autism who may also have additional learning often experience and process the world in very different ways. This difference in sensory and perceptual experience makes it difficult for them to access learning through typical routes. The Digital Touch Replica and Probos Sensory Console enable both objects and information to be presented in a number of ways that is generally more accessible to children with autism. - Using touch to add to the experience of how things look. - To hear small chunks of information given. - The ability to repeat and action or hear the same message again and again if necessary, often important to support the processing of information. - The Haptic utilises the motivating aspect of computer access, while also creating a small safe physical environment. - Challenges of fine motor difficulties are supported through being able to handle objects without risk of damage. The technologies potentially allow objects to be described in ways that are often areas of special interest for people with autism, e,g, numbers and categories etc Rachel Samuels, Speech and Language Therapist

Rachel Samuels

Speech and Language Therapist

Find information here about our new platform

More information can be found here about the features and benefits of this new platform, click on the image to go to the page


Design and Development

Designed with the help of Coventry Design Institute


Held in your fingertips

The PROBOS/VR touch experience is about making a simple connection



The navigation system was developed with the help of the visually impaired



Once digitally recorded an object starts the journey to Gallezeum



To build a sustainable business needs the right investment



There is so much more a core system can deliver



Great potential for more inclusive access to collections worldwide



A viable income source for developing outreach programs and content


In 2013 the first system was installed in the Ancient Worlds Gallery in Manchester Museum

Here Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum talks about this innovative project

Andy Mackenzie visits Gallezeum

Andy is a visually impaired physiotherapist, here he demonstrates how he uses the system. He has used the system for about 2 hours previously to this video and only short sessions spaced over the year. This video captures his growing orientation, engagement and immersion in the interactive. This is the first system of its kind, with more investment we can make this experience even better.



We started in 2010 with a specific purpose to develop the haptic interactive system. In designing a product for this sector we are building on a wealth of experience in developing new products, using and demonstrating haptic modelling software, digitising museum objects towards creating interpretation, learning and teaching materials as well as producing accurate replicas using the latest digital production technologies. I teamed up with Manchester based Virtalis, the world leading virtual reality systems provider and our technical and strategic business partner.

Touch & Discover Systems Ltd

Christopher Dean was one of the first people in the UK to use haptic modelling software. In 2000 the American company SensAble Technologies launched the Freeform Modelling System worldwide, it is a haptic, touch enabled 3D CAD system, Virtalis, who are based in Manchester supplied the systems to the Hothouse Design Centre, then a technological showcase supported by the City of Stoke On Trent. Chris had studied sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools in London and had worked as a sculptor and teacher in Somerset and Cheshire for many years. This technology made a strong impression on him and he knew then how it might be developed in the future. Chris worked for SensAble Technologies for four years demonstrating the system to leading design companies and at many public exhibitions in the UK, Germany and France while being based in the Hothouse. In 2004 Chris had a dream job offer to work for National Museum Liverpool as a Product Development Consultant researching digital production technologies with museum collections. In 2005 he and Virtalis worked on a NESTA Illuminate project creating a prototype system for Norton Priory. In 2009 he started Freeform Studios Ltd, based in Stoke On Trent, to provide product development and museum replica services. Chris has broad experience across the art and design spectrum as practitioner, teacher and lecturer, this experience has driven the development of the Probos Sensory Console. It is a way of using 3D digital scans of museum objects, developing a new interactive way to deliver information. In 2010 he teamed up with Virtalis, a world leading virtual reality systems provider, to create Touch and Discover Systems Ltd and began the development of the Probos Sensory Console, iFynds and Gallezeum application. In 2012 we were able to start a research and development project with Manchester Museum for their Ancient Worlds Gallery with support from Stavros Niarchos Foundation. We were able to work closely with a focus group from Henshaw’s Society for Blind People who are based in Manchester. In 2014 we received more funding from Stavros Niarchos to make the system more universal for everyone and were nominated for a Museums and Heritage innovations award. In 2014 we were also identified by the Zero Project as an innovative practice; the Zero Project is an initiative by the United Nations. In 2015 we started an ERASMUS project adding two more objects to the Gallezeum collection and making three available with German translation. We are now looking forward to the next steps along the way that will help us to develop this new interactive experience and to make it available in many more venues.


Touch & Discover Systems Ltd

Studio 2, Sutherland Institute, Lightwood Road, Longton, Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire, ST3 4HY


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