The annual CEATEC show in Tokyo is Japan’s largest consumer electronics gathering. Its name stands for Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies and it’s a platform for Japanese and Asian electronics manufacturers to show thousands of visitors their latest products, many of them with a Japanese flare.
Take for example a flying origami bird made by the Japanese Ultra-Small Flying Vehicle Research Institute. Weighing a mere 31 grams it is made out of paper, is equipped with sub-Gigahertz wireless technology and is piloted by remote control. During the presentation, the 70 cm long bird flew at a height of 6 metres.
According to its designer Toshitatsu Munakata, this very light plane-shaped origami features minute semiconductors, a central processing unit, a battery and the motor.
One of the stars of CEATEC was a little robot called Robohon. Created by Sharp Corporation, it fuses smartphone and robotics technologies. He bows to say hello, recognises emotions and changes expression according to the content of conversations, of which he had many at CEATEC.
“Introduce yourself!” says a Japanese software developer.
“My name is Robohon. I can send e-mails and I can take pictures and videos.”
“What else can you do?”
“I can then show the pictures.”
“And of course,” continues the developer, “he can be used as a smartphone to make and receive calls.”
The Haptic Trigger technology by Alps Electric creates a real sense of touch in a virtual world. The user holds a control while looking at an image, such as a spray gun or scissors; simultaneously they have the impression they are using the instrument. The Trigger can reproduce a range of textures and sensations such as hardness and softness, or the ability to cut.
A ping-pong robot, by Omron Corporation, uses sensors to gather data on the opponent’s return shot, direction and strength. The robot instantly predicts the ball trajectory and where it will land. According to one of its developers, Masahiro Ikumo, it is a symbol of “convergence between humans and machines”:
“This robot is able to sense the ball in a 3D area, to foresee how the ball will move and then hit it with the middle of the bat. In other words, his capability of sensing the environment, plus his capacity to adapt to it, allows us to say that the robot ‘thinks’.”
If you are in a foreign country and don’t understand the language, don’t worry. Epson has invented special glasses which can provide an immediate translation. These wearable devices also provide other information, such as subtitles in movies or details about places of interests. The product has also been tested to aid the hearing-impaired.
Torque presented what they claim is the first smartphone with seawater corrosion resistance and subaquatic photo-taking ability. When submerged it automatically switches to underwater mode. Smooth-touch operation is possible whether the screen is wet or the user is wearing gloves. Developers say it is resistant to waters drops, radiation, dust and mud.