We use our eyes for much of our online experience. If we were blind or visually impaired, our entire Internet experience would suffer. There is plenty to listen to online, but the majority of our experience requires sight. Children who are born without the ability to see aren’t able to fully experience what the Internet as to offer. Yahoo! Japan is trying to change that by adding a sense of touch. They’ve created a voice activated search engine and combined it with 3D printing.
They’ve created what’s called a Hands On Search machine. For visually impaired children, the sense of touch is very important. The way this machine works is simple. The child simply speaks whatever it is he or she wants to search for online. The search engine is voice activated, and it does a search based on the words the child speaks. Then the 3D printer prints the search results so the child can touch a 3D object that represents the Internet search.
So far this Hands On Search machine has been tested at the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, which is a school associated with the University of Tsukuba. The children can even submit requests for 3D data that is not already in the database. When you watch the video below, you can see their faces light up in joy as they experience the Internet for the first time. It’s isn’t the Internet experience that we are all used to, but it’s progress towards helping them feel what it’s like to be online since they can’t see it.
Hopefully someday a voice activated search engine and 3D printer like this will be available for all visually impaired children around the world. Yahoo! Japan believes that the future of the Internet will involve a touch feature, so we’ll see how far this continues to progress.
Voice Activated Internet Combined With 3D Printing
(Click Images To Slightly Enlarge)
Via: [Spoon & Tamago]