Amazing 3D Printing project helping visually impaired children to feel objects
This story from Japan is one such story; Hands On Search by Yahoo Japan is a 3D printing project allowing visually impaired children to feel objects they cannot see.
Using a MakerBot Replicator 2, some polystyrene and a custom built search engine by Yahoo JAPAN, the children at The Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired (associated with the University of Tsukuba) can request an object with their voice and then have the chance to feel what that object looks like.
In a world filled and controlled by smartphones, tablets and online shopping it has been said that the internet is leaving the visually impaired behind and online accessibility is currently the centre of huge debate in American courts. This project seeks to improve the lives of children for whom touch is such a huge part of their sensory lives.
The children in the video speak into the machine and say things like Giraffe and Tokyo Skytree, items which they can’t just reach out and touch, to help them understand what they feel like. The machine searches the Hands on Search database for a relevant 3D model and prints them out. If the search proves unsuccessful then Yahoo JAPAN will post an advert asking for the data to be supplied.
The data is sent to the MakerBot and once it is complete, the support material is removed the children have the tactility they require to understand what an object looks like.