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Entries in Japan (19)


Japanese Engineers Developing Real-Time Menu-Translating Glasses

By the time people from all over the world descend on Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japanese telecom company NTT Docomo hopes to offer visitors augmented reality glasses that can translate menus in real time.


Enormous 'Transformer' Robot is Ready to Ride

The Kuratas robot isn't the stuff of science fiction; the 13-foot, 4-ton robot couldn't be more real.

The robot can be controlled through its onboard cockpit or by using a 3G smartphone, which is pretty awesome. It features multiple rocket launchers and a gatling gun that can fire 6,000 rounds per minute, which is pretty scary. Luckily, Kuratas' weapons only fire compressed water (for now).


The Future of Augmented Reality Gaming Might Be a Bit Creepy

Take a look into the future of augmented reality in this interview with Japanese scientists at the 2012 Tokyo Game Show Convention. We especially love the talk about making people truly believe what they are seeing--like when they're dreaming. That, like it or not, is the future of AR.


Humanoid Robot, Geminoid-DK, May be Used as 'Welfare Technology'

Many readers probably already know about Denmark's most popular robot: Geminoid-DK. The bot was created by Henrik Scharfe, a professor at Aalborg University, in his own image and, in part, to explore the boundaries between robots and humans.

What our readers may not be as familiar with is the field of “welfare technology.” The term was actually coined in Denmark, where scientists are exploring how to use robots and other technology to assist in the care of elderly and disabled citizens. (After all, the researchers creating these amazing robots have to put them to use eventually, right?)

As The Globe and Mail reports, welfare technology could solve a growing problem in Denmark, and around the world:

Like many European countries, Denmark is grappling with the mounting cost of providing generous tax-funded hospital and elder care to an aging population. At the same time, it is anticipating a significant shortage of labor. More than 38 percent of employees in the elder care sector alone are over 50 years old and will retire in the next 10 to 15 years, according to one study.

“There is a great increase in the elderly and the number of people with chronic diseases,” said Nina Husfeldt Clasen of Denmark’s Office for Welfare Technology. “If we don’t do something drastic we won’t be able to provide the care to the elderly and sick people that they expect.”

To that end, Denmark threw $519 million at the welfare technology idea in 2006. Since then, researchers there have tried a little of everything, including robotic pet seals that comfort dementia patients, devices to enable Danes to monitor their chronic illnesses at home and, most recently, a washing tunnel to assist in the bathing of patients.

So far, most of the early interest in these devices has come from, not surprisingly, Japan:

Japan ... dwarfs Denmark in both its comfort level with robots and the severity of its demographic challenges. Japan’s Cyberdyne wants to test an “exoskeleton suit” in Denmark that will help disabled people walk. Panasonic is testing a bed with a built-in wheelchair, and Tmsuk, another robotics firm, plans to develop Roberior, an elder care robot, in the country.

Check out the TED video above to learn more about Sharfe and see a fascinating demonstration of his "twin" robot.


Robotic Hair Dresser Coming Soon

Panasonic is really branching out with their robotics efforts these days. Their latest development? A robot that washes, massages and blow-dries a user’s hair, the Daily Mail reports.

The robot is being tested in Japan before it’s available for commercial use. And though it was originally developed for the elderly and disabled, it might stop cropping up in hair salons.

Panasonic’s new Head Care Robot has 24 “fingers” that massage a person’s head, which supposedly beats the whole head-massage-from-a-human experience. Each user can customers his or her shampooing experience, and the robot has specially-placed nozzles for rinsing longer hair. It even mists the hair with conditioner to ensure an even coat.

So will people feel comfortable using a robotic hair dresser? Well, Panasonic says the massage portion of the wash is “extremely relaxing.” And not at all creepy. They swear.