On September 17th, Yahoo! Japan announced the launch of their new project, Hands on Search.


Combining their 3-D database and digital printing technology, this search engine enables you to “touch” the search results. The brand-new concept, they say, that has added to conventional search methods which are based on visual and auditory perceptions. The search results that we get are also taken from an intangible database which can be described as a collection of texts, images, videos and audio. But what if we could add the sense of touch to the learning experience by turning information into tactile objects?

yahoo hands on search

Although 3-D printing itself has been around for some decades or so, the voice-activated Hands on Search is built on the idea of learning the unknown by how it feels to the touch.

The machine was first introduced to students at the national school for the visually impaired, Special Needs Education School at University of Tsukuba. The visually impaired, of course, know all about the importance of haptic communication.

The red button activates the search function, while the blue one prints the result. The current 3-D data is provided by Yahoo! Japan and three other companies, Nissan Motor, Amanaimages and Tokyo Skytree. To further expand their database, they are asking for submissions of more 3-D data to be transformed into touchable objects.

Here’s a video clip showing how they made the machine and how it turns the data into solid objects.

The implications for marketing here are pretty big. For example, a company could basically “print” samples of products for internet users to touch when they are searching.


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