Despite a not-so-stellar third quarter for Apple, Japan was a bright spot for the iPhone maker. Apple now commands a record 34% market share in the country once dominated by domestic brands. It's the first time a smartphone brand has surpassed 30% market share in Japan in a decade, and Apple is poised to grab even more. Japan's smartphone market has typically been dominated by domestic companies including Sony and Sharp, and until this past quarter Apple didn't hold much sway in the country.
Companies in Japan and overseas are accelerating their development of “wearable technology”— items such as wristwatches and eyeglasses with data processing capabilities. South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. is expected to soon announce a new watch-type device and Google Inc., of the United States, has generated considerable buzz over its Google Glass product. And with domestic makers including Sony Corp. hurrying to enter the market, competition over the next generation of computing devices is expected to heat up.
Japan’s public television broadcaster, NHK, is working on technology that will allow people to watch TV with their fingers. NHK is developing a system that maps objects shown on the TV screen in 3D space. “Viewers” place their index finger in a device connected to several actuators that provide haptic feedback, allowing surfaces, bumps and corners to be explored through touch. The broadcaster demonstrated the technology as part of an open house at its research lab in Tokyo.
NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile carrier, will use location data from its 61.5 million subscriber devices to build a platform that monitors traffic conditions across the country. DoCoMo said it will leverage its access to massive amounts of location data to build a cloud platform of traffic information on which services can be built.
A Japanese entrepreneur’s answer to Google Glass, but with a Japanese manga-style twist. Japanese entrepreneur Takahito Iguchi wants people to see the world through other people’s eyes. But as a less ambitious jumping off point, he’ll kick it off with a world that looks like a Japanese manga cartoon. His device, called the Telepathy One, is the closest thing I’ve seen under development yet to Google’s Glass gadget.
TWO years have passed since an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the huge Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), on the Japanese north-east coast—and precipitated a phased shutdown of the country’s 54 nuclear plants for stress testing, maintenance and further seismic analysis.
With the last reactor turned off in May 2012, the past summer was when Japan started to live without nuclear power for the first time since 1970. Before the disaster struck, nuclear power accounted for 29% of the country’s electricity supply, with plans for boosting it to 50% by 2030. Such intentions are now out of the question. To compensate for the loss of such a large chunk of electrical capacity, households and businesses across Japan were threatened with black-outs and to make reductions of up to 15% in consumption or face stiff penalties. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the electricity was switched off in some parts of the country for up to four hours a day.
Japan's public broadcaster says it could begin transmissions in a format with 16 times the resolution of today's high-definition television in 2016. The format, called Super Hi-Vision, has been under development by Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) for the last few years. Super Hi-Vision images have a resolution of 7,680 pixels by 4,320 pixels. That's four times the resolution of "4K" television that's currently being touted by TV set makers as the next big thing.
Apple investors focus heavily on growth opportunities in China; but what about another neighboring Asian country? Is Apple overlooking iPhone growth potential in Japan? Japan's largest wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo has now expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, after the company has been losing subscribers to rivals that do offer Apple's device.
Remember Minami, the lifelike robot we introduced earlier? She was just the beginning! Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory was founded to encourage and promote studies based on original and unique ideas from Hiroshi Ishiguro, ATR Fellow, who has remarkable achievements on robotics. The scientists have explored new information media based on humanlike robots that harmonize humans with information-environment beyond existing personal computers, while inquiring "what is the essence of human beings?"
A humanoid robot that can mimic facial expressions is entertaining shoppers at a department store in Osaka, western Japan. The 160-centimeter tall android is called Minami. She was modeled on a real woman. Minami can smile, frown or show other emotions by adjusting her silicon skin with air pressure. On Friday, she was joined by a male android modeled on Osaka University Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. He developed the female android.