Hands on Search
"Hands on Search" is a voice-activated 3D printer attached to an Internet search engine. Yahoo Japan

Yahoo Japan has created a voice-activated 3D printer attached to an Internet search engine, offering the new machine to children with visual disabilities. The new machine lets users touch what they searched for; a function the company calls the “future for the Internet.”

The new machine was delivered to the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, part of the University of Tsukuba, and offers children the ability to search for any item and being able to touch that object. The “Hands on Search” was created, according to Yahoo Japan, as a way to address the possibility of incorporating touch to our Internet experience. Yahoo Japan asks on its website, “The internet is visual and auditory. What if the sense of touch became possible? What does the future look like?”

If a child’s search yields no results, Yahoo Japan will place ads on the project’s site in order to obtain the data necessary to create the object. The machine will stay at the school until October and Yahoo Japan plans on sending the “Hands on Search” technology to various institutions around Japan.

According to Agence France-Presse, the machine can create objects in a few minutes. A video, which can be viewed below, of the machine in action at the school revealed the ability to create giant beetles, dinosaurs and cars. Yahoo Japan said it plans on making the technology available to the public but did not discuss any attempts to commercialize “Hands on Search,” notes AFP.

In 2013, 3D printers have been shown to be incredibly versatile tools, for researchers and consumers. There was plenty of controversy over the ability to print a working gun, from available blueprints online, but other individuals have used 3D printers to create a functional robotic arm while NASA is planning on using the technology in space.