Thursday , June 17 2021

Seiichi Miyake: Google Doodle celebrates Japanese inventor

The work of pioneering Japanese inventor Seiichi Miyake is honored by today's Google Doodle.

Miyake is best known for developing tactile coatings – bumpy or striped surfaces on stairs, sidewalks and train platforms – to help visually impaired pedestrians avoid potential hazards.

He came up with the idea in 1965 when he tried to help a visually impaired friend navigate around busy public areas.

The panels, originally known as tenji blocks, were first introduced in Japan's Okayama City on this day in 1967 before becoming mandatory by the country's rail network a year later.

This led other cities throughout Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka, to develop tactile coating in the following years.

Seiichi Miyake invented tactile coating, also known as Tenji blocks

However, it was not until the 1990s that Miyake's invention became commonplace in Western countries such as Britain, the United States and Canada.

The most common types of tactile coating include raised lines or domes. The previous design indicates that it is safe to walk on a particular road, while the latter acts as a "stop" sign to warn users of potential hazards.

Although the tiles are produced in different colors, they are often colored yellow to help partially blind users.

Charity Disability Information Scotland highlights the importance of tactile coating, in a post on its website.

"As you move around in a pedestrian environment, visually impaired people will actively seek tactile coating as a means of knowing what is ahead of them," it says.

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