Yahoo Japan uses 3D printing and voice search to help visually impaired kids explore the world

Yahoo Japan has leveraged 3D-printing technology to recreate different words into mini versions of physical objects they stand for. By integrating the voice search function with the three-dimensional printing, the tech brand has helped visually impaired children in Tokyo get a grasp, literally, of the world around them.

For the one-off project aptly called “Hands On Search,” Tokyo-based advertising agency Hakuhodo developed and installed in a school for the blind and visually impaired a white cloud-shaped machine—inside it, there was a voice-activated 3D printer. Kids came up to it and named the object they would like to explore with their fingers. Once the “order” was received, the printer started creating palm-sized renderings from colorful plastics. Kids got their hands on a plethora of items ranging from a boat to a skyscraper, a squid and even… a poop.

In the description to the video, Yahoo mentions that “Hands On Search” is the future of the Internet search. The project is detailed on the dedicated website, where one can find both the objects that have been already recreated and the ones which are waiting to be rendered into tiny replicas.

Yahoo Japan, partly owned by the Japanese mobile provider Softbank and the U.S. company Yahoo Inc., shares no future plans on commercializing the voice-activated 3D printer/search engine so far.