3D printed maps could help the blind navigate their city

Springwise: “Modern technology has turned many of the things we consume from physical objects into pixels on a screen. While this has benefited the majority of us, those with sight difficulties don’t get along well with visual stimuli or touchscreen devices. In the past, we’ve seen Yahoo! Japan develop Hands On Search, a project that lets blind kids carry out web searches with 3D printed results. Now the country’s governmental department GSI is creating software that will enable those with visual impairments to print out 3D versions of online maps.
The official mapping body for Japan — much like the US Geological Survey — GSI already has paper maps for the blind, using embossed surfaces to mark out roads. It’s now developing a program that is able to do the same thing for digital maps.
The software first differentiates the highways, railway lines and walkways from the rest of the landscape. It then creates a 3D relief model that uses different textures to distinguish the features so that anyone running their finger along them will be able to determine what it is. The program also takes into account contour lines, creating accurate topographical representations of a particular area….
Website: www.gsi.go.jp