Seiichi Miyake: Google Doodle pays Tribute to Japanese Inventor

Seiichi Miyake

Miyake is best known for developing tactile paving – bumpy or striped surfaces on stairs, pavements and train platforms – to help visually impaired pedestrians avoid potential hazards. The panels, initially known as tenji blocks, were first introduced in Japan’s Okayama City on this day in 1967, before being made mandatory by the country’s rail network a year later.

The patterned “braille blocks” or Tenji blocks as they’re referred to in Japan, consist of two types of raised bumps, which provide different information to pedestrians. Circles mean an impending hazard, like the end of a sidewalk or railway platform, and can also indicate a landmark like a bus stop. Straight bars work like a compass pointing people in the right direction safely. You might have walked over them today.

The first pattern was a series of lines that indicated to visually impaired people that it was safe to keep moving forward. Another pattern contained what was then called “truncated domes” and suggested to the visually impaired person that they should stop.

The charity Disability Information Scotland highlights the importance of tactile paving, in a post on its website.

When moving around a pedestrian environment, visually impaired people will actively seek out tactile paving, as a means of knowing what is ahead of them,” it says.

The Doodle also displays the paving’s signature bright yellow colour, which is the main but not only colour used for the paving. Expect to see the Miyake Doodle at the head of Google on March 18 in Japan, the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., and a few other countries.

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