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.