Thursday, December 27, 2007

Panasonic Starts Sample Shipments of World's Thinnest, 9.5 mm Height, Blu-ray Disc Drives

Fukuoka, Japan, Dec 27, 2007 - (JCN Newswire) - Panasonic Communications Co., Ltd. today announced that the company has started shipping samples of the world's thinnest* (9.5 mm height) internal Blu-ray Disc (BD) drives to personal computer manufacturers.

Since Panasonic introduced the industry's first 12.7 mm high internal DVD Super Multi Drive in 2003, it has continued to pioneer optical disc drive technology by making the drive's profile even thinner, to 9.5 mm and then to 7.0 mm. The company has achieved these breakthroughs by producing key devices in-house and is leading the industry in providing the benefits of Blu-ray discs.

Now available to PC manufacturers, the new sample 9.5 mm high BD drives, were accomplished by combining Panasonic's own technologies such as the low-profile, 2-lens actuator and spherical aberration compensation mechanism and an optimized optical design for CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc laser.

Due to the increasing need for data volume on personal computers and the gaining popularity of high definition digital images, the demand for Blu-ray discs and BD drives is rapidly rising. Panasonic believes the world's thinnest BD drive ideally meets these consumer trends as it also provides a high added value for notebook PCs that are also becoming thinner and lighter. Panasonic continues to bring out innovative disc drives through steady improvements in their performance and features.

Even with its 9.5 mm high thin profile, the new BD drive features double speed reading and writing for both write-once BD-R and rewritable BD-RE discs. This feature was facilitated through perfecting technologies such as improved light usage efficiency, high-speed recording waveform and broader bandwidth of the light-receiving element.

The product is also capable of reading and writing on BD-R DL (dual layer/50GB) and BD-RE DL discs and will be compatible with future organic pigment-type BDs.

The new drive is also compatible with three types of optical discs (BD, DVD, CD). It supports reading and writing on four types of BD media (BD-R, BD-RE, BD-R DL, BD-RE DL) and reading of BD-ROMs. In addition, it is capable of reading and writing on seven types of CD/DVD media (DVD-RAM, DVD-R, +R, DVD-RW, +RW, CD-R, CD-RW) and reading of DVD-ROMs and CD-ROMs. Thus, the new drive provides a DVD Super Multi Drive function plus Blu-ray Disc support. Further, it is capable of 8x writing on DVD-R/+Rs, making the handling of DVDs fast and easy.

The samples will be exhibited at the 2008 International CES, the world's largest consumer electronics show, to be held from January 7, 2008 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the United States.

* As a sample of internal Blu-ray Disc drive for PCs. The dimensions are 9.5 mm (H) x 128 mm (W) x 127 mm (D).Fukuoka, Japan, Dec 27, 2007 - (JCN Newswire) - Panasonic Communications Co., Ltd. today announced that the company has started shipping samples of the world's thinnest* (9.5 mm height) internal Blu-ray Disc (BD) drives to personal computer manufacturers.

Since Panasonic introduced the industry's first 12.7 mm high internal DVD Super Multi Drive in 2003, it has continued to pioneer optical disc drive technology by making the drive's profile even thinner, to 9.5 mm and then to 7.0 mm. The company has achieved these breakthroughs by producing key devices in-house and is leading the industry in providing the benefits of Blu-ray discs.

Now available to PC manufacturers, the new sample 9.5 mm high BD drives, were accomplished by combining Panasonic's own technologies such as the low-profile, 2-lens actuator and spherical aberration compensation mechanism and an optimized optical design for CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc laser.

Due to the increasing need for data volume on personal computers and the gaining popularity of high definition digital images, the demand for Blu-ray discs and BD drives is rapidly rising. Panasonic believes the world's thinnest BD drive ideally meets these consumer trends as it also provides a high added value for notebook PCs that are also becoming thinner and lighter. Panasonic continues to bring out innovative disc drives through steady improvements in their performance and features.

Even with its 9.5 mm high thin profile, the new BD drive features double speed reading and writing for both write-once BD-R and rewritable BD-RE discs. This feature was facilitated through perfecting technologies such as improved light usage efficiency, high-speed recording waveform and broader bandwidth of the light-receiving element.

The product is also capable of reading and writing on BD-R DL (dual layer/50GB) and BD-RE DL discs and will be compatible with future organic pigment-type BDs.

The new drive is also compatible with three types of optical discs (BD, DVD, CD). It supports reading and writing on four types of BD media (BD-R, BD-RE, BD-R DL, BD-RE DL) and reading of BD-ROMs. In addition, it is capable of reading and writing on seven types of CD/DVD media (DVD-RAM, DVD-R, +R, DVD-RW, +RW, CD-R, CD-RW) and reading of DVD-ROMs and CD-ROMs. Thus, the new drive provides a DVD Super Multi Drive function plus Blu-ray Disc support. Further, it is capable of 8x writing on DVD-R/+Rs, making the handling of DVDs fast and easy.

The samples will be exhibited at the 2008 International CES, the world's largest consumer electronics show, to be held from January 7, 2008 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the United States.

* As a sample of internal Blu-ray Disc drive for PCs. The dimensions are 9.5 mm (H) x 128 mm (W) x 127 mm (D).


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New phone device allows you to 'speak' through your ear

TOKYO — A Japanese company Tuesday unveiled a new device that will allow people "speak" through their ear so they can use their mobile telephones in noisy places. The device — named "e-Mimi-kun" (good ear boy) — doubles as an earphone and a microphone by detecting air vibrations inside the ear, developer NS-ELEX Co said.

The earpiece and an accompanying device can be connected to a mobile phone, or wirelessly to a Bluetooth handset, so that users no longer have to cover their mouths when speaking in a loud environment, the company said. Exterior noise is reduced six-fold by the earpiece, it said, while a chip developed by Sanyo Electric for the accompanying device reduces sound levels ten-fold, it added. NS-ELEX believes the product would be useful for people working in places such as factories, restaurants and amusement parks.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Muscle cell therapy repairs damaged heart

OSAKA--A medical team at Osaka University Hospital has succeeded in restoring function to the heart of a patient with severe cardiac disease using muscle cells taken from one of the patient's thighs, it has been learned.

The male patient in his 50s, who had been waiting for a heart transplant, is now able to walk unaided, and will leave the hospital in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on Thursday, according to the hospital.

It is the first time in the world that a patient waiting for an organ transplant has been successfully treated using their own cells.

"The treatment can be a good alternative to heart transplants," said Yoshiki Sawa, director of the Medical Center for Translational Research at the hospital.

In the treatment, the team first removed about 10 grams of muscle tissue from the patient's thigh. From the muscle tissue, it then extracted myoblast cells, which are the main building block of muscle fibers. The team cultivated the cells and formed them into sheets about four centimeters wide. They then wrapped the diseased heart with three layers of the myoblast sheets.

The treatment was approved in July 2006 by the hospital's ethics committee as part of clinical research into dilated cardiomyopathy--a disease in which the heart becomes swollen and unable to pump blood efficiently.

The male patient began suffering from the disease around 2004, and was hospitalized in January 2006. Despite being fitted with a pacemaker the following month, he continued to suffer serious symptoms.

The patient registered with the Japan Organ Transplant Network in August 2006, and had been waiting for a heart transplant.

The medical team took the myoblast cells from the patient at the end of March this year, and then spent two months creating 25 myoblast sheets. At the end of May, the team attached the sheets to the patient's heart, mainly around the organ's left ventricle, which is key to circulation.

After the treatment, the patient's heart functions, including pulse rate and quantity of blood pumped, all improved rapidly. On Sept. 5, or 98 days after the treatment, it became possible to remove the pacemaker. According to the hospital, the man's heart functions have almost fully recovered, and he is able to lead a normal daily life.

"The myoblast sheets were not transformed into heart muscle, but they apparently released substances that assist the functioning of weakened heart muscles. We'd like to conduct further research on the treatment so we can apply the method to other cardiac diseases and to some children's conditions," Sawa said.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Honda Develops Intelligence Technologies Enabling Multiple ASIMO Robots to Work Together in Coordination

Tokyo, Japan, Dec 11, 2007 - (JCN Newswire) - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has further advanced intelligence technologies enabling its advanced humanoid robot ASIMO to act autonomously and perform uninterrupted service to office guests.

Honda developed an intelligence technology that enhances smooth movement by enabling ASIMO to choose between stepping back and yielding the right-of-way or continuing to walk based on the predicted movement of oncoming people. Honda also developed a new intelligence technology related to ASIMO's ability to perform tasks such as carrying a tray and pushing a cart. In addition, a newly added function enables ASIMO to automatically charge its battery when its remaining battery level falls below a certain level. Furthermore, a new comprehensive system was developed so that multiple ASIMOs can share tasks by adjusting to the situation and work together in coordination to provide uninterrupted service. For example, if one ASIMO is idled while recharging, other ASIMO robots will step in and perform assigned tasks.

Honda will begin test operations of two ASIMOs equipped with these newly developed technologies December 12, at the second floor lobby of Honda's Aoyama headquarters.

Since introducing an all-new ASIMO in 2005, with more advanced physical and intelligence capabilities, Honda has focused its R&D efforts more on the area of intelligence technologies. The newly developed technologies, which enable ASIMO to operate in an environment with people and other ASIMOs, bring Honda one step closer to the development of a humanoid robot that can be put to practical use in a real world environment requiring coexistence with people.

1. New function to work together

In situations where more than one ASIMO works together, information regarding the current status of each ASIMO will be shared constantly among the multiple networked ASIMOs in order to share tasks in the most efficient manner. More precisely, first, the distance between the current position of each ASIMO and the site where each task needs to be performed will be calculated. Then, taking remaining battery levels into consideration, the most time efficient way to share tasks among the multiple ASIMOs will be determined. Based on this decision, each ASIMO autonomously performs its assigned tasks.

2. New function to avoid oncoming people

ASIMO identifies oncoming people through its eye camera, calculates traveling direction and speed, predicts forthcoming movements of oncoming people, and chooses the most appropriate path so that it will not block the movement of others. When there is not enough space, ASIMO will step back and yield the right-of-way.

3. New autonomous battery charging function

A new battery charging station was developed for ASIMO's autonomous recharging. When the remaining battery level falls below a certain level, ASIMO will automatically identify and walk to the closest available battery charging station and re-charge while standing.

Honda will continue its efforts to further advance intelligence technologies with the goal to develop a robot which can be truly useful in a real world environment where coexistence with people is required.

Test operations of ASIMO's ability to guide visitors and deliver refreshments will be carried out at Honda's Aoyama Headquarters from 3:00pm to 5:00pm weekdays between December 12, 2007 and January 31, 2008. (except the winter holidays from December 29, 2007 to January 8, 2008.)


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sanyo to create low-cost solar cells

OSAKA — Sanyo Electric Co said Wednesday it will open a lab inside its Gifu Prefecture semiconductor plant in April to develop next-generation, thin-film solar cells requiring a very small amount of silicon.

By utilizing the company's semiconductor expertise, the lab, named Advanced Photovoltaics Development Center, will be used to create solar cells whose power generation costs are comparable to regular home utility rates, according to the Osaka-based manufacturer.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Toshiba develops new weather radar

TOKYO — Toshiba Corp on Friday announced that it has developed and delivered the world's first operational weather radar system that replaces electron tubes in the transmitter with a high-power semiconductor module. The new radar is only one sixth the size of conventional equipment but offers comparable output power, along with improved waveband efficiency and enhanced features.

The first unit of the new system has been installed at the Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center at Nagoya University. The Nagoya radar operates in the 9GHz frequency band (X-band) and is the first solid-state weather radar to go into practical operation.

While the new weather radar is much more compact and offers much higher performance than conventional systems, it maintains the same level of output power by adopting a combination of gallium nitride (GaN) power field effect transistors (FET) and pulse compression technology, which strengthens peak output power.

Implementation of fully digital data processing suppresses the spurious level, allowing the frequency separation required for interference suppression to be shortened to one fourth. This contributes to efficient use of crowded radio frequencies.

The new radar reinforces performance by adding innovative features: dual polarization observation enhances the precision of rainfall estimation by capturing the shape and size of raindrops and cloud; clear-air turbulence observation detects very low levels of signal scattering, enabling to observe air conditions including wind speed even in clear weather — a very difficult task for most weather radars.

The new system has a modular structure for the antenna, transmitter and received signal processor, which supports more flexible physical system layout depending on the installation site and operation. As the new radar does not use electron tubes, which have to be periodically replaced and disposed of, it reduces environmental loads, meeting Toshiba's goal of maximizing the eco-efficiency of its products and systems.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

NEC claims world's fastest MRAM

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Japan's NEC Corp. Friday (Nov. 30) claimed that it has developed the world's fastest MRAM.

NEC's new ''SRAM-compatible, MRAM'' can operate at 250-MHz. The MRAM has a memory capacity of 1-megabit. Incorporating a memory cell with two transistors, one magnetic tunnel junction, and a newly-developed circuit scheme, the new design achieves an operation speed of 250-MHz.

That's twice as fast as current MRAMs on the market, according to NEC. Tests carried out using an internal signal-monitoring circuit demonstrated data output time of 3.7 nanoseconds from a 250-MHz clock edge.

NEC has been actively carrying out MRAM research since 2000. MRAM is a next-generation memory technology. It realizes fast operation speeds, nonvolatility and unlimited write endurance.

Verification at the SRAM speed level proves that the newly-developed MRAM could be embedded in system LSIs as SRAM substitutes in the future.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Japanese robot with soft hands chats, serves meal


TOKYO (Reuters) - A pearly white robot that looks a little like E.T. boosted a man out of bed, chatted and helped prepare his breakfast with its deft hands in Tokyo Tuesday, in a further sign robots are becoming more like their human inventors.

Twendy-One, named as a 21st century edition of a previous robot, Wendy, has soft hands and fingers that gently grip, enough strength to support humans as they sit up and stand, and supple movements that respond to human touch.

It can pick up a loaf of bread without crushing it, serve toast and help lift people out of bed.

"It's the first robot in the world with this much system integration," said Shigeki Sugano, professor of mechanical engineering at Waseda University, who led the Twendy-One project ( and demonstrated the result on Tuesday.

"It's difficult to balance strength with flexibility."


The robot is a little shorter than an average Japanese woman at 1.5 m (5 ft), but heavy-set at 111 kg (245 lb). Its long arms and a face shaped like a giant squashed bean mean it resembles the alien movie character E.T.

Twendy-One has taken nearly seven years and a budget of several million dollars to pull together all the high-tech features, including the ability to speak and 241 pressure-sensors in each silicon-wrapped hand, into the soft and flexible robot.

The robot put toast on a plate and fetched ketchup from a fridge when asked, after greeting its patient for the demonstration with a robotic "good morning" and "bon appetit."

Sugano said he hoped to develop a commercially viable robot that could help the elderly and maybe work in offices by 2015 with a price tag of around $200,000.

But for now, it is still a work in progress. Twendy-One has just 15 minutes of battery life and its computer-laden back has a tendency to overheat after each use.

"The robot is so complicated that even for us, it's difficult to get it to move," Sugano said.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Sony Releases World's 1st Organic EL TV

Tokyo, Nov 22, 2007 (Jiji Press) - Sony Corp. <6758> on Thursday put on the market the world's first organic electroluminescence (EL) display television set earlier than planned.

The organic EL TV's release was initially scheduled for Dec. 1, but Sony was able to move forward the debut date to fully promote the product for the year-end shopping season thanks to smooth production, company officials said.

The 11-inch XEL-1 TV, which is about 3 millimeters thick at its thinnest part, is available at some volume appliance retailers as well as stores specializing in Sony products. Sony hopes to sell it for 200,000 yen.

Since initial demand for the advanced TV has proved strong, some stores may face short supply, an official at a large retailer said.

But the Sony officials said the company will not boost monthly output from the current 2,000 units at least for the time being.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Experts reprogram skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells

Researchers from Kyoto University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States said separately on Wednesday that they have each succeeded in reprogramming human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells, known for their ability to turn themselves into every kind of body tissue.
The converted cells have many of the physical, growth and genetic features typically found in embryonic stem cells and can differentiate to produce other tissue types including neurons and heart tissue, according to Shinya Yamanaka, a professor at the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences at Kyoto University.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Sanyo's water-proof card-size digital TV

Sanyo's water-proof card-size digital TV

Sanyo Electric Co. says it will release a slim water-proof digital TV handset (photo) on Nov. 21 that retails for 50,000 yen in Japan. The company says the handset, which has a 4-inch screen, is designed primarily for users who want to watch TV in a bathtub and that no damage is done even if the device falls into water. (Kyodo)

Kyodo News

Friday, November 16, 2007

Honda Soltec Commemorates Opening of Solar Cell Production Plant; Accelerating Honda's Energy Creation Business

Tokyo(11/12) - Honda Soltec Commemorates Opening of Solar Cell Production Plant; Accelerating Honda's Energy Creation Business

Tokyo, Japan, Nov 12, 2007 - (JCN Newswire) - Honda Soltec Co., Ltd., Honda's wholly-owned solar cell subsidiary, today commemorated the opening of its solar cell production plant with a ceremony attended by approximately 80 dignitaries, guests and Honda officials, including Yoshiko Shiotani, the governor of Kumamoto prefecture; Junichi Mitsuyama, the deputy general manager of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Department, Kyushu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI); and Isao Ieiri, the mayor of Ohzu-machi; as well as Takeo Fukui, the president and CEO of Honda.

Using thin film made from a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) instead of silicon, Honda's next-generation solar cell achieves a major reduction of approximately 50% in the amount of energy consumed during the manufacturing process compared to what is required to produce conventional crystal silicon solar cells. This makes Honda's solar cell more environmentally-responsible even during the production stage.

Honda Soltec began mass production of solar cells in October, and the annual production will reach the full capacity of 27.5 megawatts (an equivalent amount of electricity to power approximately 9,000 houses) by next spring. The company has also begun sales of solar cells for homes throughout Japan with 80 distributor locations and plans to accelerate sales by increasing the number of distributor locations to more than 200 within 2008. Honda will also work to begin exports of Honda solar cells from its new operation based in Kumamoto.

In 2006, Honda announced a global CO2 reduction target for its products and the manufacturing of those products. In addition to its effort to reduce CO2 emissions, Honda is focusing on the development and sales of energy-creation products such as cogeneration units and thin film solar cells in order to further accelerate its efforts to reduce the threat of global warming.

To reduce its environmental footprint, Honda has been proactively pursuing voluntary targets to make its automobiles, motorcycles, and power products cleaner and to reduce CO2 emissions. At the same time, Honda has been committed to develop technology for a clean energy source which does not use fossil fuels. In addition to the development of new technology to produce ethanol from cellulose, and development and sales of fuel cell vehicles and household cogeneration units in Japan and the U.S., the commercialization of the next-generation solar cells enables Honda to accelerate its efforts to contribute to the realization of an environmentally-responsible and sustainable society.

Continue reading at JCNNetwork.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New oral vaccine targets AIDS, influenza

A group of researchers has developed a new vaccine that can be taken orally and absorbed through the intestinal mucous membrane, a breakthrough expected to be used for the next generation of vaccines to tackle AIDS and influenza.

The study group was headed by Prof. Hiroshi Kiyono of Tokyo University's Institute of Medical Science. Kiyono, a specialist in mucosal immunology, focused his research on a cell that triggers the mucous membrane's immune system.

He combined a protein that targets the cell with a vaccine and tested it on a mouse.

The combined vaccine worked effectively to prevent disease agents.

In the intestines and pharynx, M cells absorb viruses, bacteria and allergens and help the immune system work.

However, because there are relatively few such cells, it has been difficult to use them for immunological purposes, with the polio vaccine among the few that can be taken orally.

However, the group found a special protein that only reacts to the M cell from the mouse's mucous membrane.

Researchers combined the protein with vaccines for tetanus and botulinum and gave them to the mouse orally. They found that the vaccine stimulated the mouse's immune system to produce enough antibodies to give it effective protection against disease.

They then gave the new vaccine to another mouse and injected it with 10,000 times the lethal dose of botulinum. The mouse survived, proving the effectiveness of the new vaccine.

(Nov. 10, 2007)


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Toshiba develops new MRAM device which opens the way to giga-bits capacity

Tokyo--Toshiba Corporation today announced important breakthroughs in key technologies for magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM), a promising, next-generation semiconductor memory device. The company has successfully fabricated a MRAM memory cell integrating the new technologies and verified its stable performance. Full details of the new technologies were presented today at the 52nd Magnetism and Magnetic Materials Conference in Tampa, Florida, USA which is being held from November 5th to 9th.

MRAM is a highly anticipated next-generation non-volatile semiconductor memory device that offers fast random write/access speeds, enhances endurance in operation with very low power consumption. MRAM can theoretically achieve high level integration as the memory cell structure is relatively simple.

In making these major advances, Toshiba applied and proved the spin transfer switching and perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA) technologies in a magnetic tunnel junction, which is a key component in the memory cell.

Spin transfer switching uses the properties of electron spin to invert magnetization and writes data at very low power levels. It is widely regarded as a major candidate among next-generation principles for new memory devices. PMA aligns magnetization in the magnetic layer perpendicularly, either upward or downward, rather than horizontally as in in-plane shape anisotropy layers. The technology is being increasingly used to enhance for storage capacity for high-density hard disc drives (HDDs), and Toshiba has successfully applied it to a semiconductor memory device. With PMA data write operation and magnetic switching can be achieved at a low energy level. Toshiba also overcame the hurdle of achieving the required precision in the interface process and significantly cutting write power consumption.

In order to realize a miniature memory cell based on PMA, Toshiba optimized the materials and device structure of the new MRAM. Close observation of performance confirms stable operation (see the diagram for full explanation of structure).

Toshiba will further enhance development toward establishing fundamental technologies within the coming years.

Development of the new MRAM technologies was partly supported by grants from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Monday, November 05, 2007

Secret of Solar Cell System on Mitsubishi 'i MiEV' Sport

Mitsubishi's "i MiEV Sport" concept car (Tech-On!)

"I knew someone would point it out," said a Mitsubishi attendant in response to my question.

Mitsubishi Motor Corp is drawing interest by displaying its "i MiEV Sport" concept electric vehicle equipped with a thin-film solar cell system at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. I was interested in the thin-film cells' fat wires like those in crystal Si cells. So I asked the booth attendant about it, and he gave me a secret of the solar cell system, starting with the phrase above.

The solar cell system mounted on the i MiEV Sport is a 13%-efficiency CIGS system. CIGS and other thin-film solar cells use extremely slim wires and usually look black. The objects on the i MiEV Sport that looked like wires are, in fact, not wires, the attendant said.

When it comes to solar cells, many consumers think of crystal Si type, which features outstanding fat wires. Therefore, Mitsubishi discussed with designers and added lines that are compared to wires so the system can be easily recognized as a solar system.

Mitsubishi chose thin-film type instead of crystal Si type because of its slimness and shock resistance. Furthermore, the company was attracted by the logical possibility of increasing conversion rates and therefore chose CIGS type among thin-film solar cell technologies.

The latest prototype can drive 20km per 1-week charge. This is, however, not worth the cost of a solar cell system. The company expects the solar cell system manufacturer to lower system costs further, Mitsubishi said.

The manufacturer of the CIGS solar cells has not been specified. The attendant, however, stressed the cells were "CIS type, not CIGS." In Japan, Honda Motor Co Ltd calls the same technology CIGS, while Showa Shell Solar KK calls it CIS.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gasoline car converted to run on solar power

Those clever Japanese scientists have been at it again, working hard to find answers to problems we never knew existed. This time, they’ve come up with a way to convert dirty old normal cars into clean, green electric vehicles.

The breakthrough comes to us courtesy of the Total Mobility Project, a scheme intended to prepare for the rapid aging of Japan’s population and led by the local government of Fukushima Prefecture, which lies 300km north of Tokyo.

Using a Mazda Roadster as a test bed [Subscription link], the team has succeeded in removing the engine and gas tank and replacing them with an electric motor and battery. After slapping seven solar panels across the hood of the car, they found it able to run for 30km at a top speed of 100km/h.

As for cost, the conversion ran to a hefty ¥2.5 million ($21,000), but the bright side is that drivers doing a daily average of 60km can expect to save ¥1 million ($8,400) over five years.

Article 100% copy and pasted from
Visit this site to see the picture of this vehicle.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hitachi Develops Finger Vein Authentication System Integrated in Steering Wheel

Central Research Laboratory of Hitachi Ltd developed a finger vein authentication system that can be installed on a car steering wheel.

The company plans to exhibit the system at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007 and search for appropriate marketing strategies by researching the response from auto manufacturers and general users.

The company pointed out security and usability as two advantages of installing the finger vein authentication system in a car steering wheel. From the standpoint of security, the main application is theft prevention.

But the company reportedly sees the demand for using it also as a preventive measure against unauthorized use of "on-vehicle credit settlement." Hitachi expects that this type of settlement will be used widely in the future.

In regard to the aspect of usability, the provision of the finger vein authentication system on the steering wheel allows an interior that can satisfy the driver's requirements (seat position, air conditioner setting, etc) and enhances the operability of various kinds of applications (audio equipment, car navigation system, etc). The company intends to provide the system with functions to store and identify finger vein patterns of several people.

Read on at TechOn!

Toyota: '1/X' Concept Car Weighs 1/3 of Prius w/ CFRP in Base Frame

Toyota Motor Corp. exhibited 1/X, a concept car whose weight is reduced to about 1/3 of that of Prius, at 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007.

The weight reduction was achieved by the adoption of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) for body frame. The interior space of the 1/X is the same as the Prius, the company said.

CFRP is used for the base frame of the vehicle body, namely, underbody (floor frame), B-pillar (column between the front and rear doors), A-pillar (column located on both sides of windshield) and part of the frame extending from the A-pillar to the rear side.

CFRP plates formed to have a wavy cross section are placed in the area on the underbody located under the front seat and behind the front and rear lights. They are provided as reinforcement to ensure safety in collision, the company said.

The reduced frame weight resulting from the adoption of CFRP enabled the vehicle to employ a smaller engine, lighter powertrain and narrower tires, thereby significantly reducing the total vehicle weight. Specifically, 1/X features a 500cc engine and weighs 420kg.

According to a demonstrator from Toyota, the lower limit of the weight is not 420kg and "it could have been even lighter." However, the most appropriate weight is about 420kg in order to provide a driving condition and acceleration performance that is stable irrespective that the driver is alone or the maximum number of passengers (four people) are in the car, the company said.

The engine is small enough to be mounted under the rear seat, which is usually dead space, without affecting the ease of getting in and out of the vehicle, the company said. When the engine is located under the rear seat, it does not take up the trunk or interior space.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Japan's Mitsubishi Motors aims to launch i-MiEV electric car in 2009

The i MiEV for fleet monitoring. TechOn!

"TOKYO (Thomson Financial) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp, Japan's fifth-largest car maker, aims to launch its i-MiEV all-electric compact car in 2009, a year ahead of schedule, company president Osamu Masuko said Friday. The car will be powered by a high-capacity lithium-ion battery." Forbes.

"Mitsubishi Motors Corp has presented its "i MiEV" electric vehicle, which will start field drive tests (fleet monitoring) in fiscal 2007, at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. With improvements given to the predecessor model that the company has been testing in advance, this new model has approached closer to commercialization, Mitsubishi said.

Along with the lowered noises from the motor and the inverter compared with the predecessor, Mitsubishi said it reduced the motor weight by 10% and the inverter mass by 30%, while maintaining the motor's maximum output and maximum torque. The motor and the inverter are products of Meidensha Corp. The motor's maximum output is 47kW and maximum torque is 180N·m."

More details at TechOn!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

NEC SX-9 to be World's Fastest Vector Computer

"TOKYO (AFP) — Japan's NEC Corp. on Thursday announced the launch of what it called the world's most powerful supercomputer on the market, meant for advanced use in the sciences.

Since the 1970s, major computer makers such as NEC, Fujitsu and Hitachi in Japan and IBM, Intel and SGI in the United States have been vying to build the most powerful computer, measured in terms of gigaflops and teraflops.

NEC said that its latest supercomputer, called SX-9, is capable of calculating 839 teraflops -- or 839 trillion floating point operations per second.

"The SX-9 has been developed to meet the need for ultra-fast simulations of advanced and complex large-capacity scientific computing," Yoshikazu Maruyama, senior vice president of NEC Corp., said in a statement.

NEC's supercomputers are used in fields including advanced weather forecasting, aerospace and in large research institutes and companies.

The company said it has already sold more than 1,000 supercomputers in the SX series.

The SX-9 will first go on display at a supercomputing convention next month in Reno, Nevada."


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hitachi says new drive cuts power needs by 40%

(Computerworld) -- Hitachi Global Storage Technologies today unveiled the new Deskstar P7K500 desktop hard drive, which it claims cuts power requirements by up to 40% over its predecessor T7K500 offering.

Hitachi said the 250GB version of the new drive requires 3.6 watts of power in idle mode, while higher-end models that store 350GB and more require 4.8 watts. Active Deskstar PK7500 machines require 6.4 watts to 8.2 watts of energy, the Tokyo-based company said.

The new Hitachi desktop drives will start shipping in volume before the end of the year, Hitachi officials said in a statement.

John Rydning, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, noted that most vendors are paying less attention to cutting desktop power requirements than they are to reducing those of larger systems. He suggested that users could force such vendors to work harder to curb energy requirements.

Rydning also suggested that the emerging hybrid offerings are the most energy-efficient disk drive option for corporate users today. "The last step to possibly reduce hard drive power consumption is to migrate to hybrid hard disk drives," said Rydning. "Hybrid hard drives with sufficient capacity of nonvolatile flash memory as an [onboard] cache could reduce the frequency of spinning up the drive."

Article from ComputerWorld.

Sharp Develops Super-Thin 2.2-Inch LCD 0.68 mm Thick, Industry's Thinnest

 Sharp Develops Super-Thin 2.2-Inch LCD 0.68 mm Thick, Industry's Thinnest
Osaka, Japan, Oct 23, 2007 - (JCN Newswire) - Sharp Corporation has successfully developed a 2.2-inch super-thin LCD for mobile devices with a thickness of only 0.68 mm, the industry's thinnest[1].

Mobile devices such as mobile phones and digital cameras are rapidly becoming thinner as manufacturers strive to improve portability and offer consumers more stylish designs. As a result, thinner embedded components such as LCDs are also increasing in demand. In addition, the increase in demand for One-Seg (terrestrial digital broadcast) compatible handsets is leading to demands for greater visibility and higher image quality in displays intended for mobile devices.

In this light, Sharp has successfully developed a new 2.2-inch Mobile Advanced Super View LCD with a thickness of only 0.68 mm, the industry's thinnest[2], based on proprietary Sharp fabrication techniques for thin LCDs, in particular, glass substrate and backlight technologies. This new Mobile Advanced Super View LCD delivers superior image quality approaching that of an LCD TV thanks to a high contrast ratio of 2000:1, wide viewing angle of 176 degrees, and fast response speed of 8 ms, which are among the highest levels in the industry[2]. As the leading manufacturer of LCDs, Sharp will continue to develop new proprietary technologies for LCDs, ranging from large-size LCDs for TVs to small- and medium-size displays, and will contribute to the further evolution of mobile devices in the future.

Read Specifications at JCNNewswire.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Robot Masseur in Japan Gives Facials

TOKYO (AP) — With steely arms sprouting cables and wires, the WAO-1 robot looks nothing like a relaxation device.

But researchers at Tokyo's Waseda University hope the contraption will soon be deployed to hospitals and spas across Japan to give therapeutic facial massages.

The WAO-1 robot, which stands for Waseda Asahi Oral Rehabilitation Robot 1, is being developed initially for patients with jaw-related medical problems who require facial massages as part of their treatment, according to project leader Atsuo Takanishi.

The robot's arms are fitted with ceramic spheres the size of golf balls, and the spheres roll over the skin. The arms' movements are controlled by a complex set of algorithms designed to emulate massages, while six sensors at the base of the arms measure and adjust the pressure applied by the spheres, Takanishi said.

The technology has to be more refined than those in electric massage chairs because the facial bone structure is much more fragile than back or spine bones, he said.

Another research team member, Ken Nishimura, said the robot could be adjusted to give beauty and relaxation massages.

"This technology can be applied very widely," Nishimura said. "I'm looking forward to a time when this robot will give beauty facials at spas."

The team is set to start clinical trials using the robot in November, according to Takanishi. The robot, developed with Japan's Asahi University, must be approved by a government safety panel before it becomes available to hospitals or to the public.

Japan is a leader in consumer robots. A robot that gives shampoos is already widely deployed at hair salons across Japan.

Associated Press.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hitachi Breaks Through Terabyte Barrier

"Hitachi researchers, who say that the new CPP-GMR hard disk read heads will enable hard drive recording densities of up to one terabit per square inch, a quadrupling of today's highest areal densities in hard drives, expect to incorporate CPP-GMR technology into products in 2009 and predict the technology will reach its full potential in 2011.

Corporations and consumers who crave more storage on their PCs can rest assured that hard drive makers are working to push well beyond the terabyte barrier. Hitachi claims it has developed the world's smallest read-head technology, and expects its breakthrough to quadruple current storage capacity limits to four terabytes for desktop hard drives and one terabyte for notebook drives.

A terabyte of storage space is equivalent to about one million books, 250,000 digital songs, or 250 hours of high-definition video.

"Hitachi continues to invest in deep research for the advancement of hard disk drives as we believe there is no other technology capable of providing the hard drive's high-capacity, low-cost value for the foreseeable future," Hiroaki Odawara, research director for Hitachi's Storage Technology Research Center, said in a statement.

John Rydning, research manager for IDC's Storage Mechanisms: Disk program, called Hitachi's breakthrough an evolutionary step for hard disk technology. What this means for the market is the possibility of a 1-TB drive in a 2.5-inch format several years from now, Rydning said."

Read full article at Sci-Tech-Today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New NEC Technology Isolates Viruses At the Core

NEC Multi-Core CPU
"NEC has developed a new technology for spotting, isolating and stopping viruses at the core level of its multi-core CPU. Thus, the system keeps running, while the infected core is disabled while a fix is developed and then downloaded from the Internet.

NEC has developed a new technique for running software in separate processes on each core of a multi-core CPU whereby it stops viruses before they spread throughout the Internet-connected device, according to Digital World Tokyo.

NEC has not named the new technology that is designed to spot the virus in any of the software processes and immediately isolate and shut down that core. The technology allows the device to continue operating while the infected core is shut down, thus preventing the infection from spreading into the system.

Utilizing this method of isolation and disabling the mal-functioning core then allows anti-virus software to tackle the problem. In addition, the technique allows the user to hold the virus in place while anti-virus updates are created and then downloaded from the Internet. The technology can be applied to cell phones, cars, and potentially computers.

NEC may be encouraging manufacturers to buy their multi-core chip due to its design with the capability to segregate, isolate and treat sophisticated viruses. As noted by most security companies and software engineers the current and future range of potential harm created by rampant and uncontrollable viruses is a world wide concern.

A technology that allows commercial, governmental and private users to stop the virus dead in its tracks without creating a pandemic spread of sophisticated viruses throughout systems is a innovation worth noting.

Visit original article written by Mary Anne Simpson at

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

PlayStation Portable Slim & Lite

At E3 2007, Sony released information about a new version of the PlayStation Portable, regarded by many as Sony's answer to Nintendo's prior modification of the competing Nintendo DS - the Nintendo DS Lite. It is currently packaged in the PAL territories as PSP Slim & Lite.[2][3] The new PSP is 33% lighter (reduced to 189 grams from 280 grams) and 19% slimmer than the original PSP system. The model numbers have changed to PSP-2000, following the previous region-based numbering scheme (cf. the PSP-1000 numbering scheme of the "old" PSP model).


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fuji Heavy develops anti-collision technology

TOKYO — Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, the maker of the Subaru cars, said Friday it has developed lower-priced anti-collision technologies using a high-performance stereo camera system.

The system, to be mounted on a rear-view mirror, recognizes distances to objects ahead in a similar way to a pair of eyes. Distances are measured speedily by a newly developed three-dimensional image-processing engine.

If there is an imminent danger of collision, an electronic alarm is set off and the brake system is activated automatically.

Fuji's technologies are different from many existing anticollision technologies, which use radar systems. Radar systems are poor at detecting pedestrians and bicycles, as the radio waves reflected by such objects tend to be weak.

The stereo camera system is better at detecting such objects and its costs are lower than those of radar systems, which use expensive sensors.

Fuji's technologies allow a vehicle to maintain preset levels of intervehicle distance and speed. If a driver starts the car by mistake, its brakes are applied automatically if there is any object close ahead.

Fuji Heavy will offer the stereo camera and related systems in Japan as an option for its Legacy passenger cars from 2008.


Japan's Elpida Develops World's Fastest DRAM

Tokyo, Oct 5, 2007 (Jiji Press) - Japan's Elpida Memory Inc. <6665> said Friday it has developed the world's fastest dynamic random access memory.

The 512-megabit DRAM, which achieves a data transfer rate of 9.6 gigabytes per second, has a data-processing capacity six times greater than industry-standard levels, Elpida said.

Potential applications include high-definition television sets, video game consoles and other products requiring powerful capacities for high-definition image data.

Sample shipments will start in December and mass-production is seen beginning in April 2008.


Friday, October 05, 2007

A four-wheel 'two wheeler' from Yamaha, is there a word for this type of vehicle?

A hybrid four-wheel concept bike, the Tesseract from Yamaha Motor Co., will be displayed at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha says Oct. 5. The Tesseract, powered by a water-cooled V-twin-engine and an electric motor, is one of 19 concept vehicles the bike maker will exhibit under the ''Art of Engineering'' theme at the Tokyo Motor Show, which will open at Makuhari Messe in Chiba on Oct. 27 and run through Nov. 11. (Kyodo)

Article & picture from Kyodo News.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Apple farmer raises 'miracle' fruit

News photo
Farmer Akinori Kimura of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture,
says to one of his pesticide-free apples,
"Thanks a lot. You did a great job!"

Learn about this fascinating story at TheJapanTimesOnline.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Panasonic's TH-50PZ700U plasma becomes 'best ever tested'

"While we've seen Consumer Reports take a gander at a number of HDTV's before, it's been a tick (or maybe "forever" is more fitting) since it's seen "the best flat screen ever tested." Believe it or not, Panasonic's 50-inch TH-50PZ700U plasma was actually the recipient of such sensational praise, and such luxuries as the 1080p resolution (oooh) and its ability to "reproduce the finest details, rich vibrant colors and deep blacks" (aaah) apparently set it way ahead of the pack. Additionally, the screen was so impressive that reviewers actually stated that it "lent an almost three-dimensional look to images," which we figured was only possible with a pair of truly gaudy glasses. Welp, guess we all know which HDTV you're getting next, eh?"This is an excerpt, visit Engadet.

" Models demonstrate a prototype of Toshiba Corp.'s Facemation operated by the Japanese electronics giant's latest gadget, the 'SpursEngine' processor, at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, or CEATEC Japan 2007 at Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba, east of Tokyo, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2007. The Facemation was demonstrated to show the SpursEngine's capabilities including real-time, 3D 'face morphing' of hairstyles and makeup on actual video of individuals. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) "

Toshiba lets you use hand as remote

Toshiba's Facemation, seen here, features the "SpursEngine" processor. The SpursEngine's can do real-time, 3D "face morphing" of hairstyles and makeup on actual video of individuals.
"CHIBA, Japan — You won't have to grope around for the remote anymore if electronics giant Toshiba's latest gadget makes it to your livingroom: a laptop that lets you issue DVD commands with your own hand — without touching the keyboard.

The "SpursEngine" processor, using Cell Broadband Engine technology jointly developed by Toshiba, IBM and Sony, allows viewers to stop, skip ahead and give other commands in real time by pointing their thumbs at the screen.

The screen senses the movement of the user's hand signals and responds accordingly.

"It uses 'SpursEngine' to recognize your fingers," said Akio Sakai, a Toshiba specialist manning the display where the company's prototype was unveiled on Tuesday at the CEATEC electronics show outside Tokyo.

Sakai said the processor can pick up the hand motions from 3.3 meters (10 feet) away. The technology isn't on the market yet, and Sakai said Toshiba still hadn't set a release date."

Read full article at USA TODAY.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The SonyDrive XEL-1 OLED TV: 1,000,000:1 contrast starting December 1st

It's here friends, Sony's Drive teaser is none other than their 3-mm thin, 1,000,000:1 OLED TV, just announced official with a December 1st Japanese retail date. The 11-inch SonyDrive XEL-1 set features a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, terrestrial digital tuner, 2x 1W speaker, and HDMI, USB, and Ethernet jacks in a package measuring 287 x 140 x 253-mm and 2-kg (3.3-pounds). How much? Well, ¥200,000 or about $1,740 -- That's about $160 per inch of OLED. Rich indeed, but so it goes for first generation technology.

This article is from Engadget.

Finer details related to product found at JCNNetwork.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Colorless ink that produces a riot of color

"Seeing the whole color spectrum became possible with a new colorless ink jointly developed by Yasuchika Hasegawa, an associate professor of photochemistry at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), and researchers from Central Techno Co. in Osaka.

Colorless inks that appear blue or green under ultraviolet light have been available for years, but a new ultraviolet ink developed by Hasegawa's team has added another dimension.

The team has created a red ink so that now it's possible to produce all the colors of the rainbow by combining the three basic colors.

The researchers are aiming at commercializing the newly developed ink.

If the ink is used on the white surface of identification cards, for example, information written on the surface can be shown when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays. Or, advertisements or interior designs can be displayed in the dark.

The colorful photos or pictures disappear if they are not exposed to the ultraviolet rays.

Hasegawa's team members developed the ink by using europium, a rare-earth element that emits weak lights of red color when exposed to ultraviolet rays."

Read full article at

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tohoku University Prototypes Wireless Power Supply System for Artificial Retina

"A research group focused on the development of artificial retina prototyped a system that can wirelessly supply power from an external source to an LSI in an artificial retina implanted in the eyeball.

The research group led by Mitsumasa Koyanagi, professor at graduate school of engineering, Tohoku University, presented the accomplishment at 2007 International Conference on Solid State Devices and Materials (SSDM), an international conference on semiconductors that was held from Sept. 18 to 21, 2007.

The latest system employs an electromagnetic induction type wireless power supply unit. The unit is equipped with a compact battery. It supplies power from the primary coil embedded in a lens of eyeglasses to the secondary coil in a crystalline lens serving as the lens for the eye by means of electromagnetic induction. Two major parts of the latest development were the secondary coil and the Schottky diode provided to rectify AC current supplied to the secondary coil to DC current."

This is an excerpt. Read full article at Tech-On!

NEC develops portable DNA analysis device

"NEC Corp. has developed a portable compact device that will allow police to complete a DNA analysis in about 25 minutes, according to the company.

The device, jointly developed with press machine manufacturer Aida Engineering Ltd., based in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, is the first portable device of its kind, the company said. It will go into use with police forces in fiscal 2008 at the earliest.

The compact device, which measures 50 centimeters by 20 centimeters by 40 centimeters, will help police speed up the early stages of investigations, the firm said.

Currently, it takes between one day and a week to complete a DNA analysis, as police have to take skin and other samples taken from a crime scene to a forensics lab where a number of pieces of equipment are necessary to conduct an analysis."

From the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Keio University's Eliica All-Electric Vehicle


"The Eliica (or the Electric Lithium-Ion Car) is a battery electric vehicle prototype, or concept car designed by a team at Keio University in Tokyo, led by Professor Hiroshi Shimizu. The 5.1 metre (16.7 feet) car runs on a lithium-ion battery and can accelerate from 0-100 km/h (60 mph) in four seconds. In 2004, the Eliica reached a speed of 370 km/h (230 mph) on Italy's Nardo High Speed Track.

The Eliica weighs in at 2400 kg (5291 lbs) and seats the driver and three passengers. The body of the four door car has a futuristic, bullet shape design which was tested in a wind tunnel. The front doors open forward and the rear doors open upward like wings. The car's platform contains 4 tracks of 80 batteries, which make for one third of the vehicle's cost. They currently require about 10 hours of recharging from empty to full charge, and can be easily charged off of a residential power grid.

The car has eight wheels enabling it to be closer to the ground for better traction. Each of the wheels has a 60 kW (80 hp) electric motor, giving a 480 kW (640 hp) eight wheel drive which can tackle all kinds of road surfaces. The four front wheels steer. The electric motors mean that the Eliica can deliver a smooth acceleration free from gear shifts of about 0.8 g. Each wheel contains a disc brake and employs a regenerative brake system to recover energy.

There are currently (as of 2005) two versions of the Eliica: a Speed model and an Acceleration model. The Speed model is made to challenge gasoline-based records and has a top speed of 370 km/h (230 mph) with a range of 200 km (125 miles). The Acceleration model is made for the street and has a top speed of 190 km/h (120 mph) with a range of 320 km (200 miles).

The estimated cost of development was in excess of US$320,000. Once the team receives corporate sponsorship, they plan to produce at least 200 units. As of early 2007, the projected pricetag was ¥30,000,000, or about $255,000 US."


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rocobo, Takara Tomy's tiny "Tamagotchi on Steroids"

"Rocobo, Takara Tomy's tiny "Tamagotchi on Steroids" is taking Tokyo by storm... and the wider world awaits. OK, don't get excited... but if you do, your interactive Rocobo robotic pet will too! Yell at Rocobo and the sassy li'l critter will flap his ears and yap right back. While you may think you're training this plastic pooch, it just might be training YOU at the same time!"

Read full article at InventorSpot.

Individuals to buy emission rights

Japan Carbon Offset, a nonprofit organization based in Tokyo, said it will begin a program to allow individuals as well as businesses to fight global warming by converting carbon dioxide emission rights into smaller lots for sale to investors. The program is the first of its kind in Japan, the organization said.

The program, expected to start later this year, will be carried out in cooperation with 16 companies, including retail giant Aeon Co., supermarket chain Seiyu Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the group said Thursday.

Payments to buy products or services offered by the 16 businesses will be partially set aside to buy emission rights.

The group will initially purchase rights to emit 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide from a hydraulic power generation project in Brazil and sell them in minimum lots of about 1 ton, which currently trades at just over ¥2,000 per ton.

The Japan Times.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Molecule linked to stronger bones

"Researchers have found that a molecule in the brain that regulates appetite also functions to control bone mass levels, a finding they say could help develop new drugs to treat osteoporosis.

A group, which includes Shu Takeda, an expert on bone-related studies at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, conducted a series of tests on mice using the peptide, called Neuromadin U (NmU).

Mice that did not have NmU experienced an increase in bone mass. When mice without NmU had NmU injected in their brain, bone mass decreased."

Read full article at

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mitsubishi Motors's Electric Car Can Produce Wind Power

Tokyo, Sept 7, 2007 (Jiji Press) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp. <7211> on Friday unveiled a concept electric vehicle model that makes use of both solar and wind power, for exhibiting at the Tokyo Motor Show this autumn.

The i MiEV Sport model features a high-performance rechargeable battery and a body made of aluminum to keep down the weight.

With one charge of electricity, the model has a range of 200 kilometers, 25 pct more than the automaker's i MiEV minivehicle-type electric vehicle model. The maximum speed was increased to 180 kilometers per hour from 130 kilometers per hour.

The concept electric car has a solar cell panel attached to the roof so that it can accumulate electricity whenever sunlight is present. It is also equipped with a fan in the front air intake system, to enable wind power generation.

Although solar and wind power are generated only as supplementary energy sources, these features are designed to highlight Mitsubishi's environmental focus and efficient energy use, according to the company.

The Tokyo Motor Show will open on Oct. 26 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, and run through Nov. 11.

Article from JCNNetwork.

Mazda Develops World's First Biofabric Made With 100 Percent Plant-Derived Fiber for Vehicle Interiors

"Tokyo, Japan, Sept 12, 2007 - (JCN Newswire) - The world's first biofabric made with completely plant-derived fibers, suitable for use in vehicle interiors, has been developed by Mazda Motor Corporation in collaboration with Teijin Limited and Teijin Fibers Limited. This newly developed biofabric does not contain any oil-based materials, yet it possesses the quality and durability required for use in vehicle seat covers. Resistant to abrasion and damage from sunlight, in addition to being flame retardant, the new biofabric meets the highest quality standards.

Based on this biotechnology, Mazda will strengthen its future research and development on non-food-based materials in consideration of the impact such technologies have on food supplies. Mazda plans to use the biofabric for the seat covers and door trim in the all-new Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid that will be exhibited in October at the Tokyo Motor Show 2007. The all-new Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid will also feature a bioplastic, which Mazda developed in 2006, in the vehicle's instrument panel and other interior fittings."

Read full article at JCNNetwork.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Japan's Daihatsu Motor touts new fuel cell technology

Photo: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Daihatsu Motor Co., a unit of the Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor, said Friday it has developed a new fuel cell technology that eliminates the need for platinum.

Until now, the precious metal has been an essential material in the electrode catalyst in conventional fuel cells for automobiles, said the company, which specialises in manufacturing small vehicles.

"This proprietary fuel cell technology provides numerous benefits, including resource conservation, low cost, high output, and safe and easy fuel handling," the company said in a statement.

Read full article at Yahoo News.

Sony, Sharp, and Hitachi out to cut your LCD power bill

"Sony, Sharp, and Hitachi have joined forces with the goal of developing LCD television tech that will have displays sipping less than half the current juice by 2011. A recent CNET study shows that a typical plasma television uses 328 watts of power, whereas the average LCD uses 193 watts. By researching LED backlighting -- which also helps with expanded-range color reproduction -- and other energy-saving technologies, the companies hope to keep the costs of operating an LCD down as the sizes go up. And let there be no mistake, sizes will go up."

Article from Engadget.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Japan launches its first lunar orbiter

Image: Lunar probe launch
"TOKYO - After a number of delays, Japan's space agency has launched its first lunar orbiter, marking the latest move in an international race to explore the moon.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is calling the Kaguya project the most ambitious mission to the moon since the Apollo flights, more than three decades ago. The $479 million mission is also known as SELENE, or Selenological and Engineering Explorer.

The rocket carrying the three-ton orbiter took off into blue skies, leaving a huge trail of vapor over the tiny island of Tanegashima, about 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo, at 10:31 a.m. Friday (9:31 p.m. ET Thursday) as it headed out over the Pacific Ocean."

Continue reading at MSNBC.


This photo from Yahoo! News Photo.

Salmon Spawn Baby Trout in Experiment

"The new method is "one of the best things that has happened in a long time in bringing something new into conservation biology," said University of Idaho zoology professor Joseph Cloud, who is leading the U.S. government-funded sockeye project.

The Tokyo University inventors dubbed their method "surrogate broodstocking." They injected newly hatched but sterile Asian masu salmon with sperm-growing cells from rainbow trout — and watched the salmon grow up to produce trout.

The striking success, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, is capturing the attention of conservation specialists, who say new techniques are badly needed. Captive breeding of endangered fish is difficult, and attempts to freeze fish eggs for posterity so far have failed.

The Japanese researchers' ultimate goal: Boost the rapidly dwindling population of bluefin tuna, a species prized in a country famed for its tuna appetite.

"We need to rescue them somehow," said Goro Yoshizaki, a Tokyo University marine scientist who is leading the research."

Read full article at AP.

Fujitsu, Fujitsu Laboratories Develop Real-time 3D Stereo Sensor LSI for Robots

"Fujitsu Ltd. and Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. announced, Sept. 12, 2007, that their joint development of an LSI chip, which performs processing for robots so they can recognize shapes and moves of subjects in real-time.

Like human eyes, the chip performs 3D stereo image processing, which senses the depth based on parallax between images transmitted from two cameras on the robot's both sides. Given its compact size and low power, the chip can be applied to relatively small robots, the companies said."

Read full article at TechOn!

View seen from left eye

View seen from right eye

3D measurement results

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mitsubishi to Unveil Electric Vehicle with On-roof Solar Cells

"Mitsubishi Motors Corp. announced, Sept. 7, 2007, that it will exhibit three concept cars at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show.

One of the cars that will make its worldwide debut is the i MiEV SPORT. Based on the i MiEV, the new vehicle enhances the driving experience. The i MiEV is an electric vehicle based on the platform of the light car i, which drives the rear wheels by a motor. In contrast, the i MiEV SPORT employs, in addition to the rear motor, in-wheel motors at left and right sides in the front to enhance maneuverability.

To increase the utilization efficiency of energy, the i MiEV SPORT is equipped with a photovoltaic generator attached on the roof and a power-generating fan inside the front grill. The photovoltaic generator has a generation efficiency of 13%, and recharges the battery while the car is parked.

When lit by the sun for about 1 week, an energy corresponding to 10% of the battery capacity (equivalent to a cruising distance of 20 km) can be recharged. When the car is slowing down, the fan inside the front grill is rotated for the power generation."

Read on at TechOn!

Fujitsu Begins Sales of World's First PC Mouse Equipped with Palm Vein Biometric Authentication Sensor

Tokyo, Japan, Sept 11, 2007 - (JCN Newswire) - Fujitsu Limited and Fujitsu Frontech Limited today announced that they have developed a PC Login Kit for use with the PalmSecure palm vein biometric authentication device and begun sales of a mouse model and a standard model for corporate users.

PalmSecure PC Login Kit comes standard with login-authentication software, enabling client-side authentication and eliminating the need to use an authentication server, which had been required up until now. In addition, other improvements have been incorporated, such as faster authentication speeds without a palm guide[1] and greater tolerance for the distance and angle of the hand when it passes over the device.

With the new PalmSecure PC Login Kit, logins to PCs or applications that up until now required IDs and passwords can now be done using the highly secure palm vein biometric authentication method.

Read on at JCN Network.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sony's egg-shaped stereo 'dances,' emits light to tune of music

Sony's egg-shaped stereo 'dances,' emits light to tune of music

Sony Corp. said Sept. 10 it will market on Sept. 29 the ''Rolly,'' a palm-size, egg-shaped music player that ''dances'' and emits light to the tune of the music, employing the company's electronic know-how for music analysis. (Kyodo)

article from Kyodo News.

You can see the Rolly in video at Youtube.


This picture found at Yahoo News.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Toshiba Boosts Hard Drive Density By 50%

"Toshiba has unveiled a ground-breaking technology that boosts recording density by 50% on an 80-GB, 1.8", single-platter drive. Using what it calls Discrete Track Recording technology, Toshiba was able to pack 120 GB storage on a single 1.8" platter. The new development will hugely benefit media player, UMPC, and ultra-portable laptop segments where 1.8" drives with maximum possible capacity are in great demand."

via Slashdot

Friday, September 07, 2007

World's Smallet Humanoid Robot.

"A new humanoid robot, certified as the world's smallest, will be released this autumn by Japanese toy manufacturer Tomy Company. On October 25, 2007, the Omnibot 17µ i-SOBOT is scheduled to hit the market—as well as the 2008 edition of Guinness World Records, which will list the product as "the smallest humanoid robot in production."

Robotics fans look forward to i-SOBOT as a fun toy to add to their collections, but also as a leap forward in miniaturization of the advanced parts that go into these high-tech tools.

i-SOBOT stands just 16.5 centimeters tall, and weighs only around 350 grams."

Read full article at Trends in Japan.

You can see a video of these cute things in action at

Video provided by

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Surf's up as Japan plans artificial reef

A Japanese surfer competes during the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro at the Banzai Pipeline, North Shore Oahu, Hawaii, in February. Japan plans to build its first artificial reef to respond to the growing number of surfers as more Japanese enjoy kicking back on the waves, officials said Wednesday.(AFP/ASP/File/Kelly Cestari)

"TOKYO (AFP) - Japan plans to build its first artificial reef to respond to the growing number of surfers as more Japanese enjoy kicking back on the waves, officials said Wednesday.

The western prefecture of Wakayama, just south of Osaka, plans to make a reef out of natural stones and shaped like a boomerang, which would produce waves of up to 1.5 meters to 2 meters (6.6 feet).

The reef will be built on sand, which will be safe for beginners, he said.

It will be built six meters below the water surface and will measure 50 meters (165 feet) by 4.5 meters (15 feet).

Construction is slated to begin late December or early January 2008, Naka said."

Read full article @ Yahoo News.

Untangling the web: Japan experts publish map of the net

Map of the web
Provided by Information Architects Japan

"Mapping the great network that is the internet was never going to be an easy task. There would have to be as many connections as there are in the human brain. But for a group of web architects based in Japan, it is worth a go.

Modelled on the fiendishly complex Tokyo Metro map, the latest Web Trend Map (the 2007/V2 version) organises some of cyberspace's movers and shakers into an easy-to-read chart. Plotted by the Japanese firm Information Architects (IA), each line on the map represents a theme, be it news (green), tools (pink) or the brown Chinese line, which IA calls the "second internet", after the country's efforts to censor much of the content freely available in the West."

This is an excerpt, read full article at

via: newsonjapan

Sega Toys kaleidoscope projector. Kaleidoscope on the ceiling!


"Mangekyo means “kaleidoscope” in Japanese, and this projector can be used to paint your walls in bright, moving colors and shapes. The projector itself is a stylish tube that will look pretty cool sitting next to your white Homestar Pro when it comes out." -Trends in Japan


"Can make your plain walls look psychedelic. You know what’s funny? The projector that does all of this looks like a bong! :P"

vias: & Trends in Japan

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

USB Powered Ash Trays.

"If smoking and computers are your thing, then Evergreen has the answer for you: a USB powered ash tray that not only lights up when you open it, but also has a built-in fan so you can save your co-workers from second hand smoke. How nice of them to think of us non-smokers. The USB powered ash tray is modeled in the shape of a car (cars + cigarettes = macho!) and is not only powered by USB, it can also be powered by two AA batteries. Available in blue, red, yellow and green; for ¥500, how can you go wrong?"

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Bandai's New Cockroach Robot Toy


"Bandai's newest high-tech toy? A translucent robot modeled after real cockroaches. This little thing has six legs, a touch sensor that tells it to change directions when it hits a wall, a micro monitor that makes it vibrate like a cell phone, and a mic sensor that lets it scuttle away when you make loud noises.

After experimenting with several different bugs, the creators decided that the cockroach's movements and speed were the most compatible with battery efficiency and design. You can also get models with bodies resembling ladybugs, but they're still going to move like roaches.

The Hex Bug comes out in mid-September and will retail for about $15/each."

Press release (in Japanese, via ImpressWatch)

article from

Ditch the Cubicle with Japan's "Chair/Desk


"From the "idea is better than the actual product" department, this chair answers the question, "Why get a desk and a chair when you can just get a chair-desk?" Even though it's not the sleekest implementation we've ever seen, we really like the concept; less stuff is better than more stuff, right? Conceived in Japan, where living space is at a premium, it might make sense for us bloggers, too; rather than hunching over our laptops on the couch or lounging in bed in our pajamas, this could be a major upgrade to the "home office." Looks like it's only available in Japan for now; we'll have to settle for the flexible Trey chair. ::Thanko Chair/Desk (site in
Japanese) via ::TokyoMango"


Japanese scientists make breakthrough in space-based laser power

"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Osaka University have been working together to develop a device which converts sunlight into laser-light with four times the efficiency of previous attempts. According to a report out of Tokyo, the team is working on Space-based solar power systems which can collect sunlight in space and convert it into laser light, which is then transmitted to Earth and used for electricity... or to power a massive Death-Ray. The project works by storing sunlight-based energy in plate made from a sintered powder of metals like chromium and neodymium. When weak laser light is shined onto the plate, the stored energy is transferred to the laser where its strength is amplified by a factor of four. In one test, a 0.5-watt laser was amplified to 180-watts by the plates. Scientists have thus far been able to garner 40-percent of the solar energy produced, and they hope to have a system ready for satellite mounting by the not-too-distant year 2030. Huzzah!"

article from Engadget.

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