Business / Tech

Cutting-edge inventions showcased at Tokyo future-tech expo

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

Japanese technologies that engage multiple senses, such as virtual reality eyewear and wearable robotics, are being shown off at a Tokyo museum, offering the public a glimpse of a futuristic society.

Digital Content Expo 2014, held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, known as Miraikan, in Koto Ward, features exhibits including a wearable device that takes photos at one’s happiest moments by analyzing your brainwaves.

Eyewear that allows people to virtually touch 3-D renderings of anime characters are also being showcased at the event.

“The trend at exhibitions in recent years has been to display technologies that can inspire all five senses,” said Naobumi Seo, chief producer at the Digital Content Association of Japan, which organized the event.

Seo said that, traditionally, the high-tech industry relies too much on visuals, but television companies and other media firms began realizing that visual perception has its limits.

By making use all five senses, advanced technologies “allow human beings to communicate what they have not been able to communicate,” he said.

University students played a significant role in the exhibition. One group of students from the University of Tokyo showed off an invention called AgIC Print that allows anyone with a printer to design an electronic circuit board cheaply and without having to rely on in-depth technical knowledge.

One application of the AgIC Print technology involves a pen with ink containing nanoparticles of silver, which can be used to draw circuit boards by hand.

Meanwhile, students from the Tokyo Institute of Technology introduced something they call AquaFall Display, which is an invention that uses water and mist to create visual images. The students believe the technology has applications in the entertainment industry.

Seo said Japanese innovation doesn’t always start with professionals but is “buoyed by ordinary people who are outside the commercial world.”

Technological creations by hobbyists are often “very innovative,” he added. “Even ordinary housewives have greatly contributed to Japan’s creative field.”

Digital Content Expo 2014 runs through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission at the event is free. An English website is available for non-Japanese speakers at www.dcexpo.jp/?lang=en.

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