Wearable Banana

Among the Runners in the Marathon

Tokyo is certainly one of the most exciting cities in the world. It is a place where one can see the most bizarre of things. In fact, in the last Tokyo Marathon, among the things that caught the attention of people were wearable bananas that some participants wore.  The banana is complete with sensors and LEDs that display a runner’s race time, tweets and heart rate. Since 2008, the world’s largest producer of fruits and vegetables has served as an official race sponsor. Now, the company’s Japan division is redefining wearable technology with food.

The robotically-modified banana consists of wired parts. These parts are familiar to fitness buffs as they are similar to what you may find in a fitness tracker. The parts are inserted along the inside of an opened banana, which is then stitched back together and replaced with a much smaller banana-filling.

Hiromi Otaki, senior manager of marketing at the Japan division of Dole said in a statement that “The power source is a small battery connected to the wearable banana. Inside the battery there are ultra-compact LEDs and other electronic components.”

Wearable Banana

Out of the many participants, 30,000 Tokyo marathoners to be more specific, two sported the wearable banana on their wrists in Sunday’s race. The flashing LEDs were able to inform them of their distance covered and heart rate. One more funny thing that the LEDs display are advise on when to eat their next banana. We can only imagine the self-control the runners exercised from eating their banana before the finish line.

With the worldwide market for wearable devices projected to reach $52.3 billion in 2019 according to CNET, Dole’s high-tech banana may face some competition among other wearable food contenders. Among potential competitors is Kagome’s wearable tomato project. Amazing, isn’t it? That is Tokyo Technology for you!

images by tokyo42195.org and a1pakistan.com


Japanese Bank Employs Robots

Japan’s largest bank has employed a robot

Japan is truly becoming the technologically advanced nation that it has been known for for years. With the country’s obsession with robots, society in the country has been evolving towards the incorporation of robots among its people. Everywhere you go, whether it is a café, mall, or hotel, there are traces of artificial intelligence. Now, another piece of society has been taken over by robots. Recently, Japan’s biggest bank announced its decision to employ human-like robots to deal with its customers.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group will begin its trials of employing robots in a few of its branches in April. If the trials prove to be successful, the company will definitely consider bringing in more robots into more of its branches. The robot that the company will be bringing in is called Nao, a 58 cm tall robot, programmed to speak 19 different languages. Attached on his head are two cameras to focus on its customers and detect emotions from their expressions. A microphone is also attached to Nao, so it could read a person’s emotions from their voices.

During a presentation of the robot in Tokyo, Nao’s numerous features were showcased. “Hello and welcome,” Nao said. “I can tell you about money exchange, ATMs, opening a bank account, or overseas remittance. Which one would you like?”

Emotion-reading robots replace cashiers at Japan’s largest bank

The incorporation of robots in Japan’s society is not totally out-of-this-world. For years, Japan has been developing awesome robots that can make doing tasks more efficient. Also, the employment of robots into businesses has helped in alleviating Japan’s declining workforce. Hopefully, this is only a temporary solution in the world of employment since robots cannot fully replace people.

The robot used by the company is created by Aldebaran Robotics, the same company that brought the very famous Pepper. Although Nao was launched in France in 2006, the robot is very much well-accepted in Japan. It can perform the duties of a human, however nothing can beat the real deal.

Photos from the guardian and ibtimes

Softbank Improves on Pepper


Japan’s famous robot, Pepper, has the ability to understand and empathize with humans. Created by Softbank in partnership with Yoshimoto Kogyo, Pepper has also been incorporated with the right tools that make it a funny companion. Last year, the robot was employed by Nestle Japan to advertise and sell its coffee. With the many skills and features of this robot, there is no wonder why improvements to it are still being made to further make it marketable.

Softbank recently announced that Pepper will yet again be incorporated with another piece of technology – artificial intelligence. This is a great addition to the robot as artificial intelligence will allow it to have the ability to learn. Softbank has obtained IBM’s artificial intelligence “Watson” technology, which is already being used in health care, travel, and insurance services. With it, Pepper can now have the ability to work and think in English and Japanese. The ability of a robot to think and learn over time gives it a more human touch. One of the things that Pepper can now understand is the concept of probability. This can help the robot have more human-like applications and skills.

Pepper displaying its skills

Previously, Pepper was considered to be mechanical in its responses. However, with the Watson technology, Pepper can now understand how and what to answer a question that does not necessarily have a fixed answer. For example, if asked “2+2”, Pepper would not immediately answer 4 because “2+2” could also refer to a car design. Therefore, Pepper will be able to understand through context if the user meant the question for math or cars.

Pre-orders and reservations of Pepper have been made by various software developers. However, Pepper will be available on June or August this year. Pepper costs around 198,000 yen or $ 1,700. Softbank also plans to make Pepper available for businesses such as call centers and other service providers.

Photos from mikeshouts and about robots

One Piece Theme Park To Open This March

One of the attractions is Nami’s Casino

One of Japan’s most popular anime and manga series, One Piece, has been one of the funniest and most iconic fictional stories in and out of the country. Running for 18 years, the series began as a manga series, and later on expanded towards the world of television, video games, fashion, and even stage theater. It has been critically acclaimed for its humor and influence on today’s popular culture. In fact, it has been so popular, that it has recently been announced that the series is set to open its very own amusement park!

It was announced in July of last year by the official website of the series franchise that One Piece is opening its very first amusement park in Tokyo. This is the first in the country, but there is already an existing amusement park in Taiwan. Fans are certainly in for a treat especially since the opening of the amusement park is just in time for the anime’s 15th anniversary. The amusement park is said to open by March of 2015 at the city’s well-known Tokyo Tower.

One Piece is one of Japan’s most popular anime and manga series

The park is expected to feature various live entertainment, events, restaurants, and shops, so that fans and non-fans alike can get the full One Piece experience. Although there are still no details as to what kind of attractions the theme park will hold, many look forward to visiting its long-awaited opening. The official website of the series has teased fans with concept art of the theme park, and it has included: Chopper’s Thousand Sunny Expedition, Nami’s Casino House and Brook’s Horror House.

This theme park is set to attract and please many fans out there. It could also gain more fans with this new venture. So for many fans out there, go and check out the Tokyo One Piece Tower in March of this year. It will certainly be a memorable and fun-filled experience!

Photos from robot6 and animenewsnetwork

Underwater City in Tokyo

Underwater cities

A Japanese construction company Shimizu Corporation announced their plan to construct underwater cities. The construction would cost around $25 to $26 billion and it is plan to be called “Ocean Spiral”. The Shimizu Corporation claims that Ocean Spiral will capitalise on the infinite possibilities of the deep sea to accommodate human life as rising sea levels endanger the survival of island communities. The blueprint created by the company shows a vast research and residential station some 10 miles in length that begins just below the area’s surface and borrows beneath the ocean floor. The spokesperson for Shimizu Hideo Imamura told a reporter how serious they are about the construction of the underwater city. He said that it was not a pipe dream and even cited how Astro Boy cartoon character had a mobile phone long before they were actually invented.

Shimizu Corp.

The technology needed to build the underwater city is extensive in order to build a structure that could sustain life below the surface of the ocean. The project would be ready no sooner than 15 years from now. The company was able to get the support of a myriad of research firms and Japanese government agencies. However they are still looking forward to ssecure a funding from private industry and the government. The project would have three partisan. The first part is the floating surface, which will be topped by a 500 meter sphere. The central part is a spiral 15 km long with room for business zones, apartments, residential areas and hotel rooms for 5000 people. The bottom part which is about 3000 to 4000 meters under the sea the spiral will be linked to a research center for developing energy sources. The sudden interest to develop an underwater city is related to the climate change and rising sea levels. It would be a great way to resolve such issues through this project.

Photos from collective-evolution

Tokyo Pit Inn

Pit Inn is where you could see starting Jazz musicians

New York boasts itself to be the place where jazz lovers could go to. However Asian jazz lovers would be delighted with the many jazz clubs and live houses found in Tokyo. In the many clubs and live houses found in Tokyo the one that stands out the most is the Shinjuku Pit Inn. The place is more than a club and considered to be an institution in Japan already. The Pit has had decades of great jazz in its space. They have a variety of musical acts performing in their stage. They give opportunity to promising bands by giving the bands, slots in the afternoon. This allows jazz bands to thrive in the scene and get them discovered. It is amazing to see how there is so much jazz talent found in Tokyo. The Pit however allocates the evening slots to musician who had made it to the music business. The place organizes its annual anniversary concert with a line-up of famous jazz artists in Japan.

Some could listen to foreign acts they occasionally bring to the Pit

The Shinjuku Pitt Inn celebrated its 50th year. It continues to showcase amazing jazz talent. This place is great for those starting to like jazz music because it provides them a variety of tune they could listen into. It also allows them to hear the latest act to the most veteran one in the business. In fact the audience are sometimes could witness foreign musicians teaming up with Japanese players and jam. It is a wonderful opportunity to witness some intercultural exchange through Jazz music. These Jazz musicians mostly care about creating a culture that allows people to enjoy Jazz music more. In their 50th anniversary,  audience would be delighted to see different Jazz musicians. One of those musicians would be Hiroaki Mizutani who is a bassist that would be the lead of a 13 piece big band.

NHK To Broadcast 2020 Olympics

Testing the Super 8k Ultra High Definition technology

It is widely known that Japan has been heavily preparing for the 2020 Olympics. People involved have been planning everything to the very last detail. It is because the 2020 Olympics is very important to the country that will host it. It is not just an ordinary sporting event, but it also a test on the nation’s capability to host an event of such magnitude. It is a cultural, economical and political symbol. Even those companies who want to promote their products have been working very hard to make their products in time for 2020. This includes Toyota’s fuel cell hydrogen car, Japan’s magnetic levitation train, and many more.

Recently, NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting company, announced that its latest technology, the Super 8K, will be used to broadcast the 2020 Olympics. With the organization being at the forefront of the latest video and television technologies, NHK will surely deliver the best that it has for the grand and historic event.

The technology, 8K or Super Hi-Vision, was originally set to be tested in 2020. However, with Japan being the host of the next Olympic Games, the organization hurriedly made 2020 the target date to showcase the technology in full-service. Super Hi-Vision, also known as Ultra High Definition, is a television system that delivers immersive video and sound even from a significant amount of distance.

Said to be 16 times sharper than High-Definition, the technology was first tested at the 2012 London Olympic Games by broadcasting the opening and closing ceremonies. The success of the test further pushed for the development of the technology. This year, NHK also partnered with FIFA to broadcast nine World Cup matches in 8K. The matches were aired in 3 sites in Brazil and 4 in Japan.

In the works since the 1980s, the technology is set to be launched in 2016. Using 33 million pixels per frame and IMAX 70mm, optimal use of 8K would require bigger television sets than those currently available. This piece of technology takes realism to the extreme, and is a fitting match for the 2020 Olympics, as it could take viewers to the stadiums right at the comfort of their homes.

Photo from gizmag

Digital Media

Hiroo Iwata

When it comes to science and technology, Japan knows no limits. The country is so technologically advanced and sophisticated that digital or electronic devices are seen almost anywhere. It is difficult to talk technology without considering Japan. Many people consider it to be the technology hub of the world. I wonder what goes on in their people’s minds that they are able to come up with technologies. In line with this, the science and technology in the country does not limit itself to the technical and serious aspect of the field. In fact, in Japan, science and technology can actually be seen as pretty cool and fun. This is because apart from the technical aspect of the field, the country and its people have also focused on the artistic, creative, and awesome things about it.

Digital media and art is one of the ways that science and technology have crossed boundaries in the country. Art is no longer just for the artists, but has also become a field for the engineers, scientists, and programmers. This has been a pretty good idea since ordinary people would most likely appreciate the relevance of science when seen through a different and more colorful perspective.

In society today, the field of digital media has grown and attracted plenty of local and international attention. The field has made its way across not only digital art, but also music, culture, interactive installations, and machines. From this, it can be said that technology has become the underlying foundation in today’s creative outputs.

Instruments of the Maywa Denki art group

In the music industry, musicians such as Plastics and Yellow Magic Orchestra have contributed to the growth of the genre through the use of machines, LED lights, synthesizers, and electronic beats. In innovations, media artists such as Hiroo Iwata, Ryota Kuwakubo, and Maywa Denki have also made significant contributions through their inventions.

Throughout the years, the success and expansion of technologies have led to the emergence of new forms of art media such as digital media art. Now, with the emergence of another art form called internet art, it can be seen that artists are definitely branching out and broadening their reach.

Photo from design boom and laughingsquid

Manga Apartments

The apartments will have a collection of over 2,000 manga

Manga, Japan’s own version of comics has become a significant cultural piece of identity of the country. Conforming to its own style, manga will always have a distinct trait that will always make it so Japanese. The amazing thing about them is that despite the fact that they are very Japanese, they are still very popular outside of Japan. Another popular form of manga is anime, which is more for the audio-visually inclined. Fans around the world display their love for manga and anime by visiting manga cafes, participating in fairs such as Comic-con, and going to the extremes of cosplaying or dressing up like their favorite characters. Well, there is good news for die-hard manga and anime fans everywhere. Most recently, there is a new way for these fans to explore their love for manga.

Have you ever heard of Manga apartments? Yup, you heard it right. So for those of you who are always hit with the compulsive need to relax and just lie back with a pile of manga, this is the place for you. Slow Curve, an anime advertising company, has come up with this innovative idea. The company announced its plans to build apartment buildings, ten stories each, in three cities: Akihabara, Ikebukuro, and Nakano. If you were a manga fan, you would know why these cities were chosen.

Each of the cities is a popular tourist destination for its different manga and anime shops. To give a variety in each experience in every city, each city shall cater to a different type of audience. Akihabara will contain the latest in manga news. Ikebukuro units will contain shoujo and josei manga. Nakano units will be home to the classics.

With a collection of over 2,000 volumes of manga per unit, the apartments shall give full access of these collections to visitors. These manga apartments are envisioned to target foreign visitors and tourists only. Each fully-furnished apartment costs around $45 a night. Slow curve, with the help of real estate company Tomareru, aims to make the apartments open and available in the next three years. Hopefully, manga-loving tourists can finally have the vacation of their dreams.

Photo from robot6.comicbookresources

Red Bull Music Academy

This year’s event guide

Japan’s music, more commonly known as J-pop in modern popular culture, is the second largest music market in the world. Artists like Happy End, Arashi, AKB48, and Momoiro Clover Z, are all part of the phenomenon that is Japanese music. Today, Japanese music is much more different compared to Western music. The styles and themes of these genres are actual telling signs of where they are actually from. What is amazing is that despite their huge gap, both Japanese and Western music dominates the industry.

The Red Bull Music Academy, a world-traveling series of music workshops and festivals, have most recently realized the potential of Japanese music in the global music scene. A brief background of the event shows that it is an annual event held in a different city every year. The Red Bull Music Academy began in 1998 in Berlin. Since then, the event has traveled the world by holding its shows in countries such as Dublin, New York, London, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, Rome, Seattle, Toronto, Melbourne, Barcelona, and Madrid. The people running the Academy are committed music lovers who have made an effort of making a long-term music initiative. Their goal is to foster a mutual sense of respect among those making a difference in the music world.

This year marks Japan’s first time to ever host the event which will last for five weeks. From October 12 to November 14 of this year, 30 participants will share the limelight and give their best in the event. Another good thing about the event is that it does not limit itself to musicians. It gives the limelight to everyone that is concerned in making music – producers, vocalists, DJs, instrumentalists, and much more. For five weeks, this talented group of music lovers will come together for recording sessions, lectures, collaborations, and performances. Moreover, they get to do all these in the city’s top clubs and music halls.

With the Red Bull Music Academy making such a huge impact in the music industry, there is no doubt that it is one of the world’s most prestigious music events today. Who knows, maybe you’re city will be its next destination.

Photo from Red Bull Music Academy Official Site