Technology against Disasters

Aftermath of a Natural Disaster in Japan

Japan is a county that has been destroyed by numerous disasters. Though it may not show, Japan and its people have suffered time and time again all because of its unfortunate geographical location that has made it prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and many more. One of the reasons why this does not show is because of the nation’s uncanny and amazing ability to get back up after a disaster. This has been evident in the wake of the country’s most recent and tragic disaster during the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake.

The country’s ability to rise after a disaster has been due to its dynamic process of altering and adapting its society to the inevitable and unpredictable. Natural disasters such as these have always taken people by surprise especially when seismometers fail to give any early warning signs. Therefore, Japan has continuously developed all kinds of technologies and ways to minimize disaster damages and maximize disaster prevention.

Over the years, people have realized that technology and education are two of the most important things to reduce disaster risks. Japan’s strategy to attain these has been remarkable and truly impalpable. For technology, Japan has developed all kinds of technologies related to the field. One would be varying types of seismic isolation tools that have saved a great part of the country’s infrastructure. In fact, Japan’s building code specifies various standards and requirements that architects and engineers have to abide by. Another is the development of early warning signals. Japan has designed a network in such a way that when several seismometers detect the early signs of an earthquake, a signal is automatically sent to various modes of communication. This includes television screens and cellular phones. Reports of building a robot technology for disaster recovery have also been circulating. With Japan’s specialization in technology development, the country has ensured a safer and better society for its people.

Japanese Architecture Against Earthquakes

images by gstatic.com and tokyopremiumrealestate.com

Nintendo finally in Smartphones?

Super Mario

There is no doubt that Nintendo was a very big part of everyone’s childhood. The games that we all loved as kids were played on consoles made by the Japanese company. Many hours of our childhood were spent battling the enemies and beating time records in games we play on gaming machines of Nintendo. Because of today’s era of smartphones and other modern gadgets, it is high time that the company we all love follow suit in order to stay relevant. After years of scoffing at the threat from smartphones, Nintendo Co. is changing its mind on the modern trends and has decided to enter into an alliance with Japanese mobile game company DeNA Co. to develop games for mobile devices.

The announcement that came last Tuesday means that Nintendo’s trademark game characters such as Super Mario and Pokemon could finally be played on smartphones and tablets. Who could have imagined that the old school characters we played before will now be on our smartphones and tablets. The characters only appeared on Nintendo platforms such as the Wii home console and 3DS mobile machines. Both parties said they will build a global membership service for various devices including personal computers, smartphones and Nintendo machines. They also said that the mobile games won’t be mere adaptations of the games already out for the Nintendo machines but developed especially for that unique smartphone experience.

Pikachu the Pokemon

The alliance will surely be a win-win scenario for both companies since it will be combining Nintendo’s intellectual property and game development skills with DeNA’s expertise in mobile games,

Under the alliance, Kyoto-based Nintendo will acquire about 15 million DeNA shares or a 10 percent stake. In return, DeNA will acquire about 1.759 million Nintendo shares, or 1.24 percent of the company. Both acquisitions are worth 22 billion yen ($182 million). Fun Fun Fun!!

images by telegraph.co.uk and pokemon.com

 

Japan’s Biggest Car Companies Team Up

Self-driving technology

Some of today’s biggest car manufacturers include the likes of Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. All these companies are Japan’s pride in developing some of the world’s most significant vehicular and motor technology. Each of these names is big on its own, and each of them has made significant contributions to the world of technology. Now, imagine what it would be like if these three companies joined together to participate in one extraordinary project.

It was reported that these three companies along with the Japanese government have teamed up to face the country’s next era technology: a self-driving car technology. A self-navigation business conference will be held for all the parties involved to discuss the various steps they need to take in order to make their vision into a reality. Panasonic and Hitachi will also be included in the meeting for developing parts and technologies related to the field. Also, the University of Tokyo and Nagoya University will each be contributing research and analysis of relevant data.

The first step towards this goal is for car parts manufacturers to standardize the car’s software for self-navigation. Sensors and detectors are also needed to be made as a backbone of a self-driving technology. So far, these companies have been making great progress except in Bosch sensors. The public sector will also be helping by developing different infrastructures that can communicate accident information from on-road systems.

An estimated 10 billion yen is needed to be invested to build experimental models and versions of the real one in order to surpass international competition. Competitors in Europe and the United States have also expressed their goals of creating and commercializing self-driving technology in 5 years. This is why Japanese companies have made it a priority to lead in the competition of creating such technologies. There are only five years left before we can know what to expect from the world of car technology.

Photo from oncars

New Technologies for 2020 Olympics

The two companies are also Official Worldwide Olympic Partners

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is only 5 years from now, and the country has definitely been making a lot of efforts to make history. New buildings, roads, and technologies are being developed by the Japanese, and there seems to be no signs of them slowing down. One of these new technologies is a project partnered by Japanese electronics company Panasonic and French IT services company Atos. The two have come to an understanding that this partnership will rise to the occasion and create a new chapter for the 2020 Olympic Games.

In a joint statement, Panasonic and Atos have announced that the project they are working on involves setting up world class security systems and multilingual electronic display systems for all the venues of the Tokyo Olympics. The two companies are ready to take on the challenge of taking the Olympics to a whole new level of sophistication and advancement by connecting the Olympics to millions of viewers, audiences, and athletes in a rapidly evolving world.

Tokyo 2020

While Panasonic specializes in Audio Visual technology, Atos specializes in Information Technology. By combining the expertise of these two companies, the Olympic Games are in for a whole new digital era that will surely make a difference for future Olympic Games. The commitment both companies have shown also displays their goals of leaving a mark in the history of the grand event. It could also mean future projects beyond the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The two companies also happen to be Official Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partners through 2024. The two have also been closely working with the Olympics even before the event in 2020.

“We hope that they will continue to utilize the new technologies developed under this agreement, to support the Olympic Movement and its future operations,” said IOC Technology Director Jean-Benoit Gauthier. The 2020 Olympics is definitely something to look forward to.

Photos from business wire and novuslight

Panasonic’s Sustainable Town

A peek into this futuristic town

Japan and its people have been known to be experts in the field of science and technology. Apart from having the resources and education to achieve such inventions, the Japanese also have the creativity and ingenuity to create one-of-a-kind and practical technologies. Isn’t it amazing to become a Japanese person? It is as if all the creative ideas come from Japan. Their ideas are not just creative but also ingenious when you look at them in the point of view of technology. Indeed, Japan is a technology hub of the world. A kind of technology that many are focusing on today is green technology, and Japan has heavily expressed its interest in focusing on creating more environment-friendly technologies. In line with this, Japanese electronics company Panasonic has just inaugurated a sustainable city just at the south of the country’s capital.

The Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town is the company’s latest and probably coolest venture. Equipped with the company’s latest experiments and green technologies, the 19-hectare area has become one of Japan’s first futuristic cities. It features solar-powered houses, LED lighting, motion sensor-capable streets, ride-sharing services, a giant sundial and other technologies yet to be tested. One of the much awaited features of the city is the Car Life Lab which will test electric cars.

The town is currently populated by over 100 households that recently just moved in earlier of this year. It is said to have a capacity of 3,000 people by its completion in 2018. There are 18 companies that provide services such as banking, real estate, and utilities, majority of which is led by Panasonic. One of the major goals of the city is to produce its own energy for at least three days in the wake of disasters. Through this, it aims to cut down its carbon emissions by 70% and its water use by 30%. A third of its energy also comes from renewable sources.

The town residents can also connect to a community web portal where information about the community center can be found. They can also monitor the electricity consumption, check the availability of shared electric cars, and watch live footage of the security cameras.

Photo from Forbes

Clean Room Robot

The exhibition also featured a workshop for 5th graders

Japan is very well known for its advancements in technologies. It has been one of the world’s most important technology hubs with many of its inventions crossing geographical borders. It seems that every time a brand new cool and hip technology is featured on the television, it comes from Japan. This illustrates the smarts of the Japanese people when it comes to technology

Because of this, it has also been one of the best places to hold technological fairs and exhibitions. One of these was held just late this year, and has shown quite an awesome set of creations. The Good Design Award Exhibition in Tokyo is one of the country’s prime events that showcase the latest and most innovative technologies and inventions.

The exhibit featured a variety of designs ranging from the old to the new. Apart from showcasing almost a decade’s worth of design, the exhibit also featured a bunch of new and exciting stuff. One of the things featured was the curation of some Japanese furniture selections, which is an effort to utilize traditional craftsmanship such as woodworks. Another was the Kisaragi armchair which utilized cedar, which is usually not preferred for furniture because of its softness. The great thing about the chair is that the company that developed it, Hida Sangyo Co., devised a way to compress the cedar enough to make it hard and durable.

The sleek design of the VS050 SII

Another segment of the exhibit is an educational one, geared towards promoting design and technology to students. The segment had Hajime Ishikawa lead a workshop for 5th graders on the application and principles of GPS. Finally, the most awaited portion of all is the awarding of the Grand Design Award. The coveted award was actually given to Denso Wave’s VS050 SII. The robot is actually a very practical one as it can be used to replace humans in clean rooms. The purpose of the robot is to be utilized for extremely sterile environments such as in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Designed with no holes, lines, or joints, the robot is exactly what these industries need in order to have safer and cleaner manufacturing processes.

Photo from carnews and core77

Digital Content Expo 2014

The HRP-4C moves its arms and head like a real human though it cannot walk

Once again Japan is celebrating its achievements and advancements in science and technology. This year, the Digital Content Expo 2014, an annual event dedicated to the latest inventions and innovations in the country, was held from October 24 to 26. It took place at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, or Miraikan, in Tokyo. Every year, the event attracts a large number of visitors that include experts from the field, business investors, students, and enthusiasts. Also, every year, the event has been surprising its visitors with its brilliant to crazy inventions. Of course, people should expect only the best from this event, as it is hosted by the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

This year’s theme was “Wearable Technology” which is why majority of the inventions featured in the event was indeed wearable. One of the event’s highlights was a camera device that could sense a person’s happiest moments by analyzing their brainwaves. The camera then automatically takes pictures based on the user’s brainwaves.

Another is Ishikawa Watanabe Lab’s rock paper scissors robot which has a 100% winning rate. What the robot does is it predicts its opponents next shape based on the shape of their hands. It then quickly chooses the shape that would beat its opponent. Though this technology seems like it has no use in the real world, its sensing capabilities can actually be used in high-speed movement detection of cars to avoid accidents.

Moreover, a breakthrough in educational mediums was created by Sawaka. The Future Blackboard Project features a blackboard that can be turned into a multimedia screen. It has made possible the idea of writing words or characters on blackboards then triggering the board to show an animated projection.

Another interesting invention is the invention of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. The Cybernetic Robot HRP-4C is a humanoid which can move its arms and head exactly like a human does. She usually works as a model, bridezilla, and a singer.

The many inventions and breakthroughs at the exhibit show a bright future for Japan.­ Hopefully, more potential inventors can be showcased by the event next year.

Photo from english.sina

Maglev Train Gets the Green Light

The world’s first maglev train is in Shanghai with a speed of 310 mph

Japan, with its advanced technologies and superior utilities, was the first country to ever develop railway lines dedicated to high-speed travel. The Shinkansen, opened to the public in 1964, was the pioneering project that led the development of bullet trains in other parts of the world. With a maximum speed that ranges from 240-320 kilometers per hour, Shinkansen was once the fastest train in the world. However, as other countries caught up with the very same technology that Japan pioneered, bullet trains as fast as 400-500 kilometers per hour have been developed.

To improve the country’s railway system and to establish itself once again as the world’s leader in high-speed travel, the Japanese government’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism recently approved plans to build the world’s fastest train line. This train will use a state-of-the-art magnetic levitation (maglev) technology that could travel as fast as 500 kilometers per hour. However, this is not the first time that maglev technology has been used. In fact, China already has an existing maglev train in Shanghai which has a maximum speed of 430 kilometers per hour.

Maglev technology basically uses magnets rather than the traditional wheels. Magnets are used for both lift and propulsion. There are many advantages with this technology such as higher speeds, smoother and more peaceful travel, and are unaffected by weather. Although it is much more expensive to construct, in the long run, it is less costly to maintain.

Set to be the world’s fastest train, Japan’s maglev is expected to be completed by 2027. With a budget of $50 billion, the construction of its initial line will start next year. The line is set to connect Tokyo and Nagoya, and reduce the travel time by half. Proposals to expand the line to Osaka are also in motion, but are still set for 2045. This extension will cost another 9 trillion yen. Many speculate that by the time Japan’s maglev train will have finished, it could no longer be the world’s fastest train. China is currently developing an ultra high-speed maglev train that could reach 2,900 kilometers per hour.

Photo from Telegraph

Anti-loneliness Chair For Hugs

Nurse demonstrating the technology

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth. – Virginia Satir” Nothing makes you feel better than the power of a hug. But what is it about hugs that give people the feeling that everything is going to be alright? Well, studies say that hugs really do have that healing power. Some say it helps release certain hormones that aid in anti-ageing, anti-stress, and lower blood pressures. There is no wonder why Japanese scientists have explored this idea to create a technology that could potentially benefit mankind.

Japan’s nursing care goods maker, Unicare, thought well and hard on how to help the elderly and cognitively impaired feel better. This is where the power of hugs comes into play. However, these hugs aren’t from humans. The company innovatively unveiled the “anti-loneliness” tranquility chair. It is basically a rocking chair with a built-in life-sized doll with protruding arms that can be wrapped around the person sitting on the chair.

The chair is said to make people feel safe and better. Although the chair was built with the elderly in mind, it can be used by any one from all age groups. The chair costs around 46,000 yen or 420 US dollars. A special version for wheelchairs is also available.

This is not the first time a product was created for the elderly. In fact, Japan has been actively making products specifically for them. Maybe the fact that around 25% of the population belongs to the above 65 age bracket is one of the reasons why companies are targeting that demographic. The percentage is expected to reach 40% in the next decades.

With this, thousands of home care and rehabilitation products were presented at the International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo last October 1. Other products presented included wheelchairs, walkers, beds, and other pieces of odd technologies were shown. Creating such products for the elderly can really be of help to them. Though it makes for good business, it is undeniable that these products change the elderly’s lives for the better.

Photo from Japan Today

Toyota Mega Web

A glimpse of vintage cars at the History Garage

One of the world’s largest auto showrooms is every car enthusiast’s playground. With a slogan of “Look, Ride, Feel – Car Theme Park”, the Toyota Mega Web in Odaiba, Tokyo is definitely a must-see. The whole theme park consists of a 24,000 square meter area that showcases the different products and technologies of the company. Children and adults alike will get to appreciate and explore the world of automobiles. With only a few years of existence, the showroom has attracted over 50 million visitors from all over the world.

The main attraction of the theme park is called the Toyota City Showcase. It features a wide array of the company’s latest and future products. Visitors even get the rare chance to test-drive some products that are not even available in the market. There is also an attraction called the “Mega Theater” which is a motion simulator. Several rides are also available, but one of the most popular is “Ride One”. Ride one allows licensed drivers to pick any car from the latest Toyota lineup, and drive the car on a 1.3 kilometer, 2-lap course. A children’s version allows kids to drive a motor-assisted hybrid cart.

The History Garage features the most popular cars in history, even ones that are not Toyota. It has car displays with a vintage garage feel. The cars presented are from all over the world during the 1950s to 1970s. It has a total of about 150 vehicles on display.

In Hybrid Wonderland, visitors are educated about hybrid technologies. To get a better idea, visitors can also get a glimpse of hybrid cars, which makes use of a gasoline engine, an electric motor, and a battery. Children are introduced to the technology through the hybrid karts they can test drive. Visitors are also introduced to what is said to be the next generation’s technology, the electric vehicle commuter.

Toyota Mega Web is a dream come true for car enthusiasts, but even people who know little about cars will enjoy looking at and learning about them. The showroom is open from 11 am to 9 pm. Admission is free, but test rides and other special attractions have charges.

Photo from Timeout.jp