Highlights from Interbike 2014

Japan

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

4DX will hit Japan for the first time for the release of Iron Man 3 (Picture: Marvel Studi...

Iron Man 3 will become the first film in Japan to be screened in the new 4DX format when it opens in movie theaters next week, according to Hollywood Reporter. A sort of Smell-O-Vision plus, the 4DX format supplements moving pictures and sound with an array of effects, including smells, wobbly seats, strobe lighting and bubbles.  Read More

The Kidswalker NT is a new and improved version of Sakakibara-Kikai's gasoline-powered rob...

Kids these days have it made. Case in point: Sakakibara-Kikai's latest creation, the Kidswalker NT, a miniature gasoline-powered exoskeleton that wouldn't look out of place in a Saturday morning cartoon. The original Kidswalker, unveiled in 2010, was designed to placate youngsters who demanded a ride in the company's much larger (and potentially more dangerous) Landwalker. As cool as it was, the Kidswalker has now been upgraded with additional features.  Read More

Google Maps recently added the evacuated town of Namie-machi to Street View as part of a l...

It's been over two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the nation's northeastern coast, devastating the population and creating a nuclear incident at the Fukushima power plant. Despite concentrated efforts to repair the damage though, there are still areas that remain vacant and almost untouched since – but that doesn't mean you can't still explore these places yourself. Google Maps recently added the evacuated town of Namie-machi to Street View as part of a larger project to document the destruction and restoration of areas affected by the earthquake.  Read More

XEMNES, a hobby robot controlled with the 8-bit Nintendo / Famicom pad

In a move that brings back memories of the R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) that was available for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Japanese hobbyist Izumi Ninagawa has simplified the controls of a modern fighting robot to work with a Famicom (8-bit NES) game pad – which has one of the most basic button configurations around. The NES-styled robot even competed in a robot boxing tournament earlier this year.  Read More

Hitachi's ROPITS' navigation system combines GPS, stereo cameras, and multiple laser range...

Toyota, Honda, and General Motors have been toying with the concept of eco-friendly single-seater urban vehicles over the past few years, and Hitachi has taken notice. Although it may look like a miniature car, Hitachi's ROPITS is more like a robotic wheelchair designed to assist people with difficulty walking (i.e. Japan's growing elderly population). The key difference is that – unlike the concept vehicles demonstrated by the auto makers – ROPITS drives itself.  Read More

Kengo Kuma & Associates has designed an experimental house in Hokkaido, Japan called 'Même...

Japanese architectural firm Kengo Kuma & Associates recently demonstrated its ethos of design inspired by light and nature with an experimental house in Hokkaido called "Même." The structure is designed for cold climates and whilst based upon the local Ainu people's “Chise” (House of the Earth), it uses modern materials for an insulated double skin membrane that promotes convection and maintains a comfortable internal environment due to heat circulation from its continually lit fire.  Read More

LG's Optimus G Pro is heading to Japanese carrier NTT Docomo

LG's high-end Optimus G has sold over one million units, and LG passed Apple as the number two phone maker (including feature phones) in the U.S. Its next move? If the Japanese market is any indication, it will be an upgraded version of its flagship, the Optimus G Pro.  Read More

The new Ene-Farm home fuel cell (left) and accompanying hot water unit

By relying on a chemical reaction rather than combustion, fuel cells like the Bloom Energy Server are a more environmentally friendly source of electricity than fossil fuel burning power plants – they’re also easier to fit on a residential or commercial block. Unfortunately, their price is still prohibitively expensive for most people. But things are slowly improving as evidenced by Panasonic’s latest “Ene-Farm” home fuel cell, which was jointly developed with Tokyo Gas. Later this year, the unit will be sold in Japan by Tokyo Gas for 1,995,000 yen (approx. US$22,320).  Read More

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