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Japan

The Sony headset provides surgeons with a 3D image of the inside of the patient

Having introduced its HMZ-T1 personal 3D viewer aimed at the home entertainment market in 2011, and updating it in 2012 with the HMZ-T2, Sony has ventured into the operating theater for its latest head-mounted display. Unveiled last week in Tokyo, the "head-mount image processing unit" gives surgeons virtual X-ray vision by means of an endoscope feeding images to a pair of head-mounted monitors. This setup allows surgeons to view high definition 3D images from inside the patient while carrying out laparoscopic surgery.  Read More

Honda's Micro Commuter Prototype β electric car

When Honda first unveiled its Micro Commuter Concept EV a couple of years ago, there were likely many people who doubted that the futuristic little car would ever be seen anywhere other than auto shows. Last week, however, Honda announced that it will begin field-testing an unspecified number of the MCC's successors later this year.  Read More

A school girl wearing Sagawa Electronics' Power Jacket MK3 stands above a grown man

In recent years Japan has erected life-sized statues of giant robots like Tetsujin-28 go (Gigantor) and a Gundam mobile suit, but statues can't defend the island nation from kaiju attack. Perhaps that is why Sagawa Electronics is bridging the gap between fantasy and reality with a working robotic exoskeleton it calls the Power Jacket MK3 that mimics your every move. And it says it will produce up to five of them for about US$123,000 apiece.  Read More

Danny Choo's Smart Doll combines anime-style vinyl dolls with robotics technology in a com...

In Japan, clockwork automata (karakuri ningyō) emerged in the 17th century, and were mainly sold to wealthy or important people who used them to impress guests. These little mechanical dolls have an illustrious history, but like their Western counterparts they largely went out of fashion by the 20th century. Now, a modern version of these automata that mixes popular anime-style vinyl dolls and hobby robotics is on its way thanks to Danny Choo of Culture Japan.  Read More

Kirobo will travel to the ISS on August 4

In what may not be the most historic event in space exploration, but may be the cutest, Toyota has announced that the Kibo Robot Project’s “robot astronaut” Kirobo will be sent to the International Space Station on August 4. Unlike its human counterparts, the 13.4-in (34 cm) tall humanoid robot will travel aboard an unmanned Kounotori 4 cargo spacecraft launched from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center atop a H-IIB rocket. Once at the ISS, Kirobo is scheduled to conduct the first-ever robot-human conversation experiments in December.  Read More

Kaori-chan, a female robot, can smell your breath and responds based on a four point scale...

Have you got a case of dog breath? How about smelly feet? Friends and family may not tell you, but a couple of new robots will. Built by the Kitakyushu National College of Technology and a group of inventive pranksters calling itself CrazyLabo, the pair of odor-detecting robots are giving people a lesson in hygiene and a few chuckles.  Read More

Architecture studio Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP has designed the “Optical Glass House” in Hiros...

Architecture studio Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP has designed the “Optical Glass House” in Hiroshima, Japan, that aims to acoustically protect residents from the main road outside, whilst providing light and views for the residents within. The delicate glass blocks belie the structure and a complex casting process is employed to create the 13 ton (11.7 tonne) facade that shows-off the buildings tree-filled courtyard and looks like a shimmering waterfall to the outside world.  Read More

Honda's Walking Assist Device has been under development for 14 years, as has the company'...

Practical exoskeletons have moved considerably closer to everyday use with the news that Honda has begun leasing 100 of its Walking Assist Devices to hospitals in Japan so that it can monitor and validate their usefulness in the real world. Honda's announcement means it has joined Panasonic's Activelink Powerloader, Cyberdyne's HAL, Argo Medical Technologies' Rewalk, Rex Bionics' REX, Ekso Bionics EKSO, Raytheon's XOS2, RB3D's Hercule and Lockheed Martin's HULC exoskeletons, which are all at or close to market.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Osaka canal swimming pool (Image: City of Osaka)

Plans are afoot to build an 800-m swimming pool in the Dotonbori Canal in Osaka, Japan, according to a report in the Japan Times on Wednesday.  Read More

NEC's Medias X N-06E is the world's first smartphone with water cooling

The phrase “the phones are running hot” has the potential for a double meaning in the smartphone age, with increasingly processor-intensive apps being used on mobile devices. Desktop computers make use of water cooling to keep their CPUs from overheating, so why can’t smartphones? Why not, indeed. NEC has done just that with the Medias X N-06E, the world’s first water-cooled smartphone.  Read More

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