Super Camera Scans A Book In Seconds

Posted By Ben Goulding, 19 March, 2010 | permalink

You want to find some information in a book, but you don’t know exactly where in the book that specific piece of information is. What do you do? Well normally you would have to trawl though potentially hundreds and hundreds of pages – a very time consuming and futile procedure, but that Japanese may have come up with an invention that means we would never have to do such a thing ever again.

Masatoshi Ishikawa, a professor at the University of Tokyo has created a product that lets you scan a book by rapidly flipping its pages in front of a high-speed camera – it’s called book flipping scanning. The camera operates at 500 frames per second and processes 200 pages per minute.

(Youtube Link)

Ishikawa has other plans for the technology though. He and his colleagues are already working on several applications including a microscope that can track individual bacteria and a video game motion-capture system. This could make college so much easier for everyone.


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Spectacles Automatically Translate Spoken Words and Phrases

Posted By Ben Goulding, 3 November, 2009 | permalink

Translation Glasses

Japanese manufacturer NEC, has unveiled a pair of glasses that can automatically translate spoken words and phrases and beam a translation on to the lens.

The Tele Scouter glasses feature a compact microphone and camera, which picks up the foreign-language conversation. This audio recording is then relayed to a small computer worn on the user’s waist, which transmits the information to a remote server. The server translates the words from speech to text, and transmits it back to the glasses, where the translated phrase is then appears on a tiny retinal display, providing the wearer with a transcript of the conversation in their own language.

The invention is still a a prototype, although NEC plans to start selling the system to businesses next year, although it comes with a heafty price tag – $8.2 million for a single system that could serve up to 30 people. Ouch!


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Burger King Sells a Windows 7 Whopper

Posted By Ben Goulding, 22 October, 2009 | permalink

Burger King Japan

Introducing Burger King Japan’s exclusive Windows 7 Whopper. Yes, a burger with 7 patties, only available for 7 days, and launched at the same time as Windows 7. Anything for a sale, huh?

Via Engadget

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15 Inspired Artworks From Japan’s Superflat Movement

Posted By Ben Goulding, 20 October, 2009 | permalink

Inspired Artworks From Japan’s Superflat Movement

Superflat is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime. Embracing high and low art forms, pop culture and mass media, Takashi coined the term Superflat to describe contemporary smooth-surfaced Japanese art, graphics and animation.

Feast your eyes on 15 of the best examples of Superflat artwork in the link.

Link (Thanks Andy!)

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Terrifying Sniper Prank on Japanese TV

Posted By Ben Goulding, 15 October, 2009 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

This is incredibly harsh, but at the same time you can’t help but laugh.

A Japanese hidden camera show called ‘Panic Face King’ goes extreme on this poor guy, luring him into a fake meeting in which everyone is killed by a sniper except for him. He is definitely the panic face king.

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Google Street View Animation by Google Japan

Posted By Ben Goulding, 10 September, 2009 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

An adorable animated video explaining Google Street View by Google Japan.

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Pi To 2.5 Trillion Decimals – New World Record!

Posted By Ben Goulding, 18 August, 2009 | permalink

Pi Biscuits

Who likes pie? No, not that kind of pie, the constant pi. Well, researchers at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, certainly do. They have smashed the world record for pi to the most number of decimal places, by more than doubling the previous record to 2.5 trillion decimals.

“The T2K Tsukuba System is a 640-computer cluster with a processing speed of 95 trillion floating-point operations per second. The T2K calculated a total of 2,576,980,377,524 decimal places in 73 hours 36 minutes, which is a small fraction of the 600 hours taken by the previous record holders—Hitachi and the University of Tokyo—who calculated only 1.2 trillion places.”


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Baseball Playing Robots

Posted By Ben Goulding, 24 July, 2009 | permalink

Now this is a really cool piece of technology. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have managed to create a robot that can pitch to a separate robot who has a near-perfect swing. Check out the video.

(Youtube Link)

The robot pitcher consists of a high-speed, three-fingered hand (developed by professor Masatoshi Ishikawa and his team from the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology) mounted on a mechanical arm (developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). With superb control of nimble fingers that can open and close at a rate of up to 10 times per second, the robot can release the ball with perfect timing. Precise coordination between the fingers, hand and arm allow the robot pitcher to hit the strike zone 90% of the time.


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Bowlingual Translates Dog Barks Into Words

Posted By Ben Goulding, 20 July, 2009 | permalink

Bowlingual. Image: AFP

Bowlingual. Image: AFP

The Bowlingual, a gadget that analyzes a dog’s bark to detect its emotion, is being relaunched.

Japanese toy maker, Takara Tomy produced the Bowlingual. The device is able to analyse the acoustics of a dog’s bark and translate it into words. It focuses on six emotions including sadness joy and frustration and is able to convey these emotions to a human.

The Bowlingual Voice was first put on sale in 2002, however today’s model is much more technologically advanced. It consists of a microphone which is attached to the dog and a hand-held unit device. When the dog barks, the technology is able to translate the sound into words displayed on the hand-held device which attempts to tell the user what the dog is trying to say.

A good idea, but is it really needed? Dogs aren’t the most complicated of creatures. Surely an owner could take an educated guess at why the dog is barking. It doesn’t have too many thoughts or demands does it? Having said that, with 300,000 orders of the first Bowlingual, maybe it’s a must-have gadget.


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Scientists Aim To Create Robot-Insects

Posted By Ben Goulding, 15 July, 2009 | permalink

It may sound like science-fiction, but scientists aim to create robot-insects capable of carrying out very important tasks assigned by police or authorities.

Robot-Insects. Image: AFP

Imagine if a robot-moth could sniff out a distant drug stash or robot-bees could dodge through earthquake rubble to find survivors – well this is the vision of Japanese scientists.

Scientists will research the brains of insects and then rebuild and program them to carry out different tasks. Ryohei Kanzaki is a professor at Tokyo Univeristy’s Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology. Having become a pioneer in the field of insect-machine hybrids he believes that in the future we will see programmed insects.

“It will be possible to recreate an insect brain with electronic circuits in the future. This would lead to controlling a real brain by modifying its circuits,” he said.

Kanzaki’s team has already made some progress on this front.

It sounds scary to me…it’s like Frankenstein but with insects. Couldn’t this lead to bad guys using insects to carry out criminal acts and dare I say it, even terrorism? If insects can be used to find survivors in earthquakes then surely, if the technology gets into the wrong hands, there is potential for catastrophe.


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Rice Paddy Crop Art In Japan

Posted By Ben Goulding, 12 July, 2009 | permalink

Rice Art. Image: pinktentacle

With the summer in full flow, crop art is booming in Japan. Japanese crop farmers arrange and grow different colored rice plants to create a picture in a field.

The largest and most distinct work is grown in the village of Inakadate, which has a reputation for it’s agricultural art. For 2009, pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior on horseback have been created near the town hall.


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Japanese Introduce Smile Test At Work

Posted By Ben Goulding, 12 July, 2009 | permalink

Motivational theory tells us that happy workers are productive and efficient workers, but one Japanese company has taken the theory one step further.
Image: Keihin Electric Express Railway Co.

Keihin Electric Express Railway Company has introduced a system to check that staff are smiling enough. The “Smile Scan” is able to analyze the facial characteristics of a person and gives their smile a score from 0 to 100 percent.

A camera is linked to a computer with the smile-scanning software installed on it. An employee must stand in front of the camera and have their eye, lip and wrinkle characteristics measured to give them an overall smile rating.

Those whose smiles are sub-standard will be given a message advising them to cheer up. “You still look too serious,” or “Lift up your mouth corners,” are just some of the statements that will be displayed on the screen.

Employees are required to scan their smiles before work and will receive a print out of their daily smile which they are then expected to keep throughout the day.

Maybe in the future we could see this practice going global. Would the smile scanning machine motivate you? Let us know.

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