Photokina 2014 highlights

Japan

From left: the 2011 NWR 002 prototype, the 2013 commercially-ready LIGHBOT and the prototy...

There is no better example of the rapid rate of product development than NSK's move into the area of robotics. At IREX 2011, NSK showed a prototype robot designed to safely guide the visually-impaired, with a footprint of 520 x 660 mm (20 x 26 in) and weight of 40 kg (88 lb). This week, just two years later, NSK showed two versions its Lighbot guide robot that represent a 75 percent weight reduction and an 83 percent footprint reduction. The ingenious right-or-left-hand-drive interface has been both replaced and improved, and all other aspects of the latest bots are equal to or better than the original.  Read More

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe riding in an autonomous drive Nissan Leaf  (Image: Nissan)

Autonomous cars took to the roads of Tokyo for the first time on Saturday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a passenger. The Prime Minister rode on the public roads in the National Diet Front Garden in a Nissan Leaf and autonomous cars built by Honda and Toyota. According to Nissan, Saturday’s drive was meant to show the Japanese government’s support for the development of autonomous cars, as was symbolized by the venue located between Japan's parliament and the Imperial Palace.  Read More

It appears that Nippon Moon remains a concept for now (Image: UNStudio)

With Nippon Moon, UNStudio is bringing more than sheer scale to the concept of the enormous observation wheel. Though the height of the wheel has not been fixed, Nippon Moon is clearly intended to put Japan on the map (the map of gigantic ferris wheels, that is), and compete with, if not surpass, the likes of the 165-m Singapore Flyer and the 135-m London Eye. However, UNStudio hints that smartphone apps or even augmented reality could be used to enhance the ride, and make it an observation wheel fit for the 21st century.  Read More

Toyota's JPN Taxi Concept that will premiere at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Alongside its FV2 personal transportation vehicle concept, Toyota will also be premiering a next-generation taxi concept at the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show. Although it bears more than a passing resemblance to London's iconic black cabs, Toyota says the JPN Taxi Concept has been created with Japanese hospitality in mind.  Read More

Sony's first foray into the portable games market is being revived on the PlayStation Vita...

Sony is doing its best to revitalize its struggling PlayStation Vita portable with two new models, and now it's bringing back its first attempt at a portable gaming console, the PocktStation, in app form. The app, which will be free until December 3rd for Japanese PS Plus subscribers who own a PS Vita, will restore the PocketStation functionality that has been missing in around 70 PlayStation games available on its digital store.  Read More

The Bloom helmet from Toyo Safety looks like any other safety helmet, but folds down for s...

Natural disasters can strike at any moment, and often with little, if any, warning. This is especially true in countries located along fault lines, which can experience sudden and devastating earthquakes. Though countries such as Japan have measures in place designed to warn of earthquakes, the risk still exists. Which is where the Bloom from Toyo Safety could prove its worth.  Read More

The new 'Ene-Farm' home fuel cell installed in a condominium's pipe shaft with the fuel ce...

Panasonic and Tokyo Gas have continued joint development of their "Ene-Farm" home fuel cell unit, which became the world's first commercialized fuel cell system targeted at household heating and electricity generation when it went on sale in Japan in May 2009. The latest model is aimed at use in condominiums and features a number of modifications to ensure the units meet the more stringent installation standards placed on those buildings.  Read More

Artificial shells for hermit crabs by Aki Inomata (© AKI INOMATA)

About this time two years ago, we looked at the efforts of Miles Lightwood and the Thingiverse community to 3D print shells for hermit crabs, but Tokyo-born artist Aki Inomata has been creating artificial shells for hermit crabs since 2009. Her most recent efforts are intricate and ornate, incorporating ideas on the theme of national identity through depictions of city skylines and vernacular architecture. The hermit crabs seem to like them too.  Read More

The Kisai Quasar hides time behind a pulsing geometric pattern

The latest odd-ball timepiece from Tokyoflash, the Kisai Quasar, features a pulsing display that hides the time behind a geometric pattern, at least for those who don't know what to look for and where to look for it.  Read More

An image of a manga comic created by the Manga Generator (Image: Shirai Labs)

If you've longed to be the star of a manga comic, here's your chance to punch, jump and kick your way into one. Shirai Lab's Manga Generator turns any pose you strike into a comic panel in real time with the help of a Kinect sensor, adding backgrounds, props, speech bubbles and sound effects to convey the emotion you want to express. After a couple of minutes you're given a single-page multi-panel comic that features your image, fancifully rendered manga-style throughout.  Read More

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