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In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass. Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable.
Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it’s relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives. Deer aren’t the only animals that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks.
In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains. Japanese researchers are getting creative to reduce the number of deer killed on train tracks. Braille wasn’t designed to be seen or heard. For vision-impaired people already fluent in the language, this isn’t a problem: Running their fingers across a page or a sign can give them valuable information they wouldn’t know otherwise. But for a sighted person interested in learning the language, all those tiny identical dots can look a bit intimidating.
His typeface, called Braille Neue, has two versions: one for Japanese characters, and one that works for both Japanese and the Roman alphabet. The lines in blue represent the written text. Someone who uses their eyes to read can decipher the meaning of a letter from looking at that component alone. Takahashi isn’t the first designer to overlay text and braille, and he doesn’t plan to be the last. He hopes his project will inspire more people to improve on his project and create braille typefaces of their own. Through the contribution of increasing the variation of typeface that combine braille with existing characters, I believe we can create an inclusive society where using braille becomes commonplace,” Takahashi tells Mental Floss. Braille Neue is just a concept for now, but Takahashi sees it one day replacing current signs that display braille and text separately.