Yahoo Japan Combines Internet Search and 3D Printing to Help Blind Children

Think about how many times you search the internet every day. Whether it’s at work, in school, or at home, we’re constantly looking up phrases, names, places and objects.

The web has become a primary source for information, a place we can go to better understand and navigate the world around us.

Now imagine you’re visual impaired and not able to access and consume those same web articles, videos and images. You’d be at a huge disadvantage, right?

That’s something that Yahoo! Japan is about to change.

Earlier this week, the company unveiled its new Hands On Search technology which will allow blind and visually impaired children to conduct web searches for objects—say a lion or a dragon—and then print out a palm-sized replica that they can hold, touch, and feel.

This technology, quite literally, adds a new dimension to how the children understand and experience physical objects.

The Hands On Search machine, which resembles a giant fluffy white cloud, is essentially a computer hooked up to the internet and attached to a 3D printer.

Children can perform a voice-activated internet search for whatever they want, from a horse to a T-Rex to a fighter jet, and the computer will search for an image of that object. The 3D printer will then render said horse or jet plane for the child in about three minutes by layering thin sheets of resin over and over until the object is formed.

The Hands On Search technology will soon be installed at a Tokyo school for the blind and visually impaired, and Yahoo Japan plans to create a special website where images of objects that children are most curious about will be stored.


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