A new, innovative basic concept developed by Yahoo Japan elevates search functions beyond the intangible, towards what could be actually held by the user’s own hands.


Named as the Hands on Search, this new idea circulates on the base premise that, up to now, search functions usually provide information either in digital worded form, or via multimedia sources (images, audio, and video). The concept uses a voice-recognition system that is used in conjunction with a basic search engine. After the user speaks the keyword to be searched, the terminal or interface would then provide a visual and audio description of the searched term, by which then it would proceed to print a 3D tangible model of the spoken keyword using a 3D printer. The team that developed the idea hoped to elevate search functions so that it could now also be “touched”, hence the usage of the term “Touch Search” for the concept.

The primary goal of Hands on Search is to provide an added venue or outlet of information to disabled children, who would otherwise be unable to enjoy, experience, or even appreciate one of the information outlets provided by standard search functions. By providing a tangible object, these children would still be given the chance to understand and appreciate what they need to know at the same level as how any normal person could.

The prototype Hands on Search terminal shown in the demonstration video was made and developed by the University of Tsukuba Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired. They introduced the unit a few weeks ago, at the beginning of September 2013. The development team now plans for a comprehensive introduction of the unit, as well as its entire concept. A series of special hands-on lessons to several schools will be conducted starting September 20 to October 18, 2013.

It is notable to mention that Hands on Search doesn’t really link directly to Yahoo, but instead uses a separate database that includes 3D data for possible entries that are already added to the system. Yahoo Japan is currently recruiting volunteers that would provide the needed extra 3D data for other future search entries using their Links for Good data initiative.

Source: Yahoo Japan,

via MyNavi (JP)