Want to see of the latest and greatest tech before it hits our shores? Then hit CEATEC, Japan’s largest consumer electronics trade show, held in Makuhari Messe every year in October.
Below are some of the highlights from the first day of the show. If you want to see all the videos I’m taking at CEATEC 2016, which cover many items I’m not writing about, take a look at my YouTube playlist.
Yukai BOCCO SIM Robot
Yukai showed their BOCCO SIM robot, designed to sit in the home and notify occupants of events. New this year is a sensor to detect a door locking and unlocking, so you know if someone left the home unprotected. Users can also leave messages for others when they arrive home. The robot cannot differentiate between user voices. The $240 product is available on Amazon and the $35 sensor should be coming soon.
Honda 3D Printed Car
Honda showed off a 3D printed vehicle, using their Vehicle Design Platform. In tandem with cookie company Toshimaya, and design firm Kabuku, the shell of the battery-powered vehicle was 3D printed, and placed over the chassis provided by Honda. The shell is made from ABS plastic, and in the photos you can see the polished, finished surfaces versus those needing a final pass. Printing took 1 month, occurring 24×7, using a Stratosys Focus 900 printer, one of the largest in the industry. The vehicle utilizes a motorcycle-like pipe frame, has an 80 kilometer range, a large lithium ion battery, and a small cartridge battery for adding extra range 15 kilometers at a time.
Omron Table Tennis Robot – Now with Player Skill Recognition
Omron’s Table Tennis robot was a hit last year, beating its human challengers handily. This year, the system can detect a player’s skill and curb its own abilities when playing. We were also treated to watching the device break its arm, and the engineers had to come out and fix it. Omron’s solution has been recognized as the first robot table tennis tutor. Unexpectedly, it does not recognize different players, nor does it use deep learning, so it doesn’t get any better as it plays.
NEC Police Officer Body Cam Video Analysis System
NEC showed off their Security Guard Support Solution, which works in tandem with vest-worn law enforcement cameras. The system can extract faces in the video feed and send them to an officer’s smartwatch for suspect identification, assisted by facial recognition. Accuracy detection rate is 90%. NEC also showed how it can compensate for low bandwidth or unpredictable network coverage with a blur compensation algorithm that appeared to greatly enhance the video playback quality and smoothness.
Rakuten ZapZap Word Cloud Shopping Assistant
Rakuten, the largest online retailer in Japan, again showed advanced customer assistance technologies at this year’s CEATEC. One, the ZapZap, enables a customer to place a book on an enhanced table, and see keywords from that book begin to hover around the cover. Tapping a word brings up a related passage from the book to ease browsing. The solution uses an RGBD camera, basically RGB plus Depth, to provide this service.
Panasonic Bendable Battery Prototype
Panasonic showed off a prototype bendable lithium ion battery solution, capable of bending and not losing any power from the process. This package could enable batteries in watch straps, hats, and many wearables. The largest cell was 60 mAh. Samples will be available in October. You can see the bendability in the video below.
Panasonic Listnr Baby Talk Recognition App
Japan faces an increasing number of two-working-parent households. Keeping track of a baby’s needs is more difficult when mommy and daddy aren’t home. Panasonic’s Listnr device listens to and recognizes a baby’s sounds and sends alerts to an app reporting whether baby is happy, sad, angry, and so forth. You can see the interface in the photos below. The system is already available on Amazon.
Hobot Window Washing Robot
Hobot showed off their latest window cleaning robot, the Model 198. Like their other units, the system must be plugged in to run. If disconnected from power, it can stay stuck to the window for up to 20 minutes before falling. However, it stops cleaning when that happens. Not sure of the point, but it was cool to see a window washing equivalent of the Roomba, even if it wasn’t nearly as well thought out.
Epson PaperLab In-Office Paper Recycling Plant
Why send your paper out to be recycled when you could do it yourself? Epson’s PaperLab is about 9 feet wide, 6 feet high, and 5 feet deep and fits in a decently sized copier room. Feed it paper and it shreds it, removes all text, and within 3 minutes it will have recycled that paper. Once the system gets going – that 3 minute startup period – it can churn out 14 A4 size pages per minute. Choose the color of paper you’d like, its weight (thickness), and even add an optional scent, and voila – paper from paper. The system will be released in Japan this year. There is no water or waste, due to Epson’s proprietary Dry Fiber technology. Price unannounced, but it’s going to be “affordable” according to an Epson representative.
The recycling process is as follows:
- Insert Waste Paper
- Restore Paper to Fiber Form
- Use Binders to Bind Paper and Increase Strength and Whiteness
- Pressure Form the Paper, optionally mixing CMY to change color, and/or add scent
- New Paper is Ready
VoiceITT Speech Impediment Correction App
VoiceITT showed their TalkIT app for those with speech impediments. If you stutter, slur your speech, or have some other impediment, the solution clears up your speech in realtime so people can better understand you. VoiceITT is targeting those with autism, brain injuries, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, MS, strokes, ALS, and throat cancer, among others that affect a person’s normal ability to speak clearly. Quite fascinating in my opinion. The startup has already raised over $750K in funding. See the video below for an example.
Blincam Camera for Eyewear
I often find myself wishing I could take a photo of whatever I’m seeing at the moment without whipping out my camera. Some cool bird, a funny shirt or license plate, anything – and the moment is right and easily missed if only a few seconds pass. ShapChat has their Spectacles product coming with a built-in camera to address such a need. However, if those loud, bright, and slightly cheap-looking, shades aren’t your thing, Blincam may be exactly what you’re looking for. The device attaches to practically any pair of eyewear, and takes a photo when it detects you’ve blinked. Resolution is only 1920×1080, but that’s good enough for an Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook upload.
VRC’s Lightning Fast Full Body Scan 3D Model Generator
VRC showed off their CVS – Virtual Reality + Creative – 3D model scanner. The solution can take photos in 4 seconds of any 3D object, and within 2 minutes it will have a full 360 degree render of the subject. That’s 30x faster than existing systems, which take 1-2 hours to perform the same task.
Aroma Shooter Wearable Scent Transmitter
AromaJoin’s Aroma Shooter showed a scent transmitting wearable that can send quickly multiple scents in specific directions without switching cartridges. This overcomes a common issue with “scent” solutions – often they only contain one scent at a time, run slowly, and are relatively pointless. The AromaShooter solution is quick and directional, so it can send different scents to multiple surrounding recipients, with effectively no overlay. So, whatever it is you’re smelling, your neighbor wouldn’t. I can think of a few uses for that one!
The full size Aroma Shooter holds 7 cartridges and can switch in 0.1 seconds, the fastest of its kind. The Aroma Shooter Mini holds 1 cartridge, and can be placed on any metal surface due to its magnet. All products use Bluetooth LE. 200 scents are available so far.
AromaJoin will begin its Kickstarter campaign in May 2017.