Visually disabled get 3-D printer gift

Kyodo

Yahoo Japan Corp. has developed a 3-D printer equipped with a voice-activated search engine that allows students at a school for the blind and visually impaired to manufacture objects on demand.

If a student says, for example, “elephant” or “car,” the printer will search the Internet for corresponding 3-D data. If found, the 3-D printer will render an object that fits in the palm of the hand in five to 60 minutes, depending on its complexity, the company said Tuesday.

Yahoo Japan has no plans to market the printer but will make it available to students at the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, affiliated with the University of Tsukuba.

The company said it has 3-D data on about 110 objects including animals and vehicles on a dedicated website. It plans to expand this database with contributions from businesses and private citizens.