Yahoo Links Voice Search to 3-D Printers
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
A voice-activated search can allow users to look online for blueprints and then print the plans to a 3-D printer.
Yahoo Japan has developed a voice-activated Internet search that links to a 3-D printer, letting users look online for blueprints to deliver solid objects in a few minutes, the company said.
The search engine scours the Internet for information that it can use to print palm-sized renderings of items as diverse as hippopotamuses or fighter jets.
Heralded as a technology that is potentially as game-changing as the steam engine was in its day, 3-D printers have become a more commonplace reality over the last few years.
The devices use slices of information about a three-dimensional object and gradually deposits fine layers of material -- such as plastic, carbon or metal -- to build a copy.
Design information for a working handgun was posted online earlier this year, sparking warnings that the technology needed to be tamed amid fears of a wave of home-built weaponry.
Yahoo Japan, which is part-owned by Japanese mobile carrier Softbank and US Internet giant Yahoo has no firm plans on commercializing the technology.
As part of the project, Yahoo Japan has introduced the 3-D search engine to a school for blind and visually impaired students in Tokyo on a temporary basis, it said, adding they can use it for free until mid-October.