There has always been a lot of hype surrounding the eccentricities of the Japanese people but I believe that eccentric is as eccentric does. In the differences between the West and the East, we can learn a lot – even in the most mundane of things. Take for example how different Japanese soft drinks can be. I found this list on Inventor Spot and picked out some of the most interesting items.
Cucumber-flavored Pepsi, anyone?
I am a Coke person but Pepsi will do if the restaurant does not serve Coke. Yet I always stick to the regular kind. How about Pepsi Ice Cucumber, then? I do not know – I like cucumber in salads but in my drink? Uh, I am not so sure about that.
How about Mother’s Milk?
What? Yes, you read that right, they are marketing a drink called Mother’s Milk. Now I am not so sure if it is really milk from a (human) mother but the packaging of the drink is frightening. It has a suckling baby. Who would want to drink mother’s milk aside from babies?
Salad and water in one
If you are in a hurry and you don’t have time to eat even a quick salad, then you should go for Water Salad. I can’t believe that Coca-Cola even dreamt up this drink. Was this a reaction to Pepsi’s cucumber drink?
My kid should learn how to drink early!
Give him Kidsbeer! It’s non-alcoholic but your kids will feel like they are adults as they drink their own version of beer. Bizarre, to say the least. I think I’ll give my kid root beer instead.
Posted July 27th, 2011 by Maki+ | Comments (4)
The Japanese have always been at the cutting edge of technological discoveries, and they haven’t failed to impress. Try visiting one of their ramen shops in Minami-Alps, Yamanashi and you will yet again be impressed; this time, with the juxtaposition of great food and robots.
What do they have in common? Well, this ramen house has its own robot chef, which takes care of the assembly of the noodle bowl. While the human chef still makes and cooks the noodles, the task of putting everything together to create the perfect bowl of hot steaming noodle soup is left to the robot.
Customers merely have to input their orders on a computer, and the robot takes care of everything. If you think that this might affect the flavor of the soup somehow, then you are right – but only in the best possible way! The robot can customize the flavors depending on the preferences of the customer. It can measure the different spices and flavorings – up to 40 million different permutations! From the amount of salt, soy sauce, and down to the richness of the soup, you can be sure to have a perfect bowl to match your tastes!
The shop owner, Yoshihara Uchida, is quite proud of his achievement. He worked on this robot for quite a while, meeting a lot of hurdles along the way. Finally, after five years of working on the robot, Uchida was able to launch his creation in December of 2008. He dreams of mass producing this robot and making a name for himself.
Posted July 13th, 2011 by Maki+ | Comments (3)
This is the stuff that science fiction is made of. Just think of a command, and an electronic gadget will execute it for. Need to open the garage door? Just think it. How about moving an object? Think it.
This is what the people over at Honda are working on. Japan Today has a story on it:
Honda Motor Co has developed a way to read patterns of electric currents on a person’s scalp as well as changes in cerebral blood flow when a person thinks about four simple movements – moving the right hand, moving the left hand, running and eating.
Honda succeeded in analyzing such thought patterns, and then relaying them as wireless commands for Asimo, its human-shaped robot.
In a video shown Tuesday at Tokyo headquarters, a person wearing a helmet sat still but thought about moving his right hand; the thought that was picked up by cords attached to his head inside the helmet. After several seconds, Asimo, programmed to respond to brain signals, lifted its right arm.
I am sure that you still remember Asimo, the human robot that we have been seeing a lot. There are some issues with the technology, however. For one, thought patterns are different for each person. As such, the electrical signals emanating from one person’s scalp may differ. This would mean calibrating the device for each single user.
Still, this is a very good start to what we used to think would be only seen in movies and books, don’t you think?
Posted June 14th, 2011 by Maki+ | Comments (3)
Do you live alone? Do you NOT relish the thought of coming home to an empty apartment without anyone to interact with? Or maybe, you live with other people who you do not really get along with, prompting you to go directly to your bedroom.
If so, then you might want to get yourself a Pekoppa toy, one of the newest hits in Japan. It is just like a small plant which is merely beginning to grow. Unlike any other plant, however, the Pekoppa toy can respond to the sound of your voice. Speak and you will be delighted to see its two leaves flutter or its stem bend towards you, as if acknowledging what you are saying.
The Pekoppa toy is the brainchild of Japanese company Sega Toys Co. Ltd. Since its release in September of last year, more than 50,000 units of the Pekoppa toy has been sold, attesting to its popularity. According to Minako Sakanoue, spokeswoman for Sega Toys, the Pekoppa toy serves as a psychological buffer for interaction for people of all ages. She is quoted as saying “If you have no subordinates who would listen to your grumbling in the office or no children who would talk with you, Pekoppa will be by your side, gently nodding.”
Though in truth, you know very well that the toy does not understand a thing you say, I can very well see how it can help some, psychologically. Later on, in June of this year, they will also be releasing a flower version dubbed Hanappa.
Posted November 9th, 2010 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
The World Cup always attracts immense amount of attention. Every four years, when it is held, the whole world stops in its tracks to follow whatâ€™s going on in the world of football. Of course, part of the reason for the large following (aside from the love of the sport itself) is the fact that tons of money is spent on advertising. That means that sponsors will not hesitate to advertise their own wares.
This time around, Castrol is jumping into the advertising bandwagon big time. Have you ever heard of the â€œwonderfulâ€ robot made by Castrol Japan? If not, then check this video out at the World Cup Blog.
So what can the robot do? If you took the time to watch the video, you would know that it can kick a football (just like a football player does when making a free kick). But itâ€™s not just like any kicker â€“ the machine can kick a ball at a top speed of 200 kilometers per hour! Thatâ€™s 70 kilometers per hour more than the world record that is held by famous football player Cristiano Ronaldo! Of course, there really is no comparison (despite the allusions made by Castrol executives) here as Ronaldo is made of flesh and bone while the machine is, well, a machine (made of nuts and bolts?!).
In any case, this robot will certainly draw a lot of attention, if only for the fact that it doesnâ€™t look anything like a football player and that it has awesome kick powers.
Posted January 28th, 2010 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
I still like the Segway, I think, but one cannot help but take notice of this new mode of â€œtransportationâ€ which was unveiled recently in Japan. Honda, which we all know for their cars and the robot Asimo, is the entity behind the unicycle.
Dubbed the U3-X, the unicycle can move up to 6 kilometers per hour â€“ thatâ€™s about 3.7 miles per hour. How does it work? Riders sit on the unicycle and use their weight to steer it in any direction. This is in fact one of the novel things about the U3-X â€“ it is the “world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system.â€
The BBC tells us more about the U3-X:
The “Hot-Drive” system uses a series of small motor-controlled wheels connected together to form one large wheel.
This main wheel allows a rider to move forward and backward. The smaller wheels allow the device to move from side-to-side. A combination allows the device to move diagonally.
Honda is planning to showcase the U3-X at the Tokyo Motor Show 2009 on October 24, 2009.
If you donâ€™t care much for the technical specs, let it suffice that you can move in any direction you wish to do so â€“ much like moving on your feet. The target market for the unicycle is the elderly, although I can already see people below the age of 50 clamoring for it once it goes into mass production. While I said that I prefer the Segway, I wouldnâ€™t mind having one of these, would you?
Posted September 27th, 2009 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
A new type of wheelchair has been developed by robotics experts in Japan, and it so advanced that it has been dubbed as something coming from sci-fi movies. The prototype of the wheelchair was unveiled by its creators last week. Dubbed the â€œRodem,â€ the wheelchair does not look anything like its traditional counterpart. In fact, it looks more like a scooter than a wheelchair.
The Rodem has four wheels, and the user has to ride astride â€“ much like riding a scooter. In order to steer the scooter, the user has to use a joystick, making the operation of the chair much easier for the user. More so, the design makes it easier for health care specialists to move their patients onto the chair. In fact, those who can move on their own will also find it easier to move onto and off of the wheel chair.
The inventors of the Rodem come from Tmsuk Co., a Japanese robotics company, and researchers from 10 universities and other research institutes. Makoto Hashizume, the head of Veda International Robot Research and Development Centre, says:
“I believe this is a whole new idea for a wheelchair. With this vehicle, users can move around more freely and more actively without much help from other people.”
Indeed, while the chair is primarily meant for health care purposes, the inventors say that it can also be used by people who simply want to ride. Veda says that they are not planning on manufacturing the chair commercially for now but that they will consider talking with private companies from various countries.
Posted August 30th, 2009 by Maki+ | Comments (2)
I have never really thought about a laptop â€“ or any computer â€“ being made of wood. Then again, I didnâ€™t factor the brilliant and innovative Japanese mind into the equation. Very popular and reliable notebook manufacturer Fujitsu recently unveiled a concept laptop made of wood â€“ yes, more earth friendly than the conventional laptops we all have today.
Fujitsu showed off the concept at the Milan Furniture Show 2008. Dubbed the WoodShell. Quite obviously, I have not seen a real one for myself but based on the reactions from various people all over the blogosphere, the WoodShell is being received with mixed feelings.
Some people say that it is merely an attempt to go green and thus have the â€œrightâ€ to charge more for the product. Others have nothing but good to say: â€œyou’ve got to love Fujitsu’s take on a generic 70s sci-fi font, not to mention its black-and-red-ness.â€ Thatâ€™s from Gizmodo by the way.
My personal opinion? I love the concept but how would wood stand up to the heat that laptops give off, especially if they are used for prolonged periods of time? I, for one, wouldnâ€™t want my beautiful wooden shell bursting into flames while I am playing online!
Posted April 15th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
The popularity of PC modding as a hobby is a direct response to the universal opinion of computer users that PCs generally look boring. Before modding and personalization became popular, a computer buyer can choose any color for their PC as long as it is beige. The form factors are equally unimaginative, plain, boxes that redefines what spartan means.
Modding has allowed users to really personalize their computers — reflecting their personalities as well as their passions. For the DIYers out there, you can get this nifty device from Marubeni Infotech. It’s a do it yourself wooden keyboard kit that was handcrafted by skilled craftsmen. The kit, which costs 34,800 yen, needs actual assembly, which I know will thrill hobbyists everywhere. The finished product is no slouch either. It is a definite conversation piece. How many people do you know use wooden keyboards, anyway? The keyboard is part of a whole range of wooden PC products that include a USB drive, mousepad, desk organizers, keyboard stands and cable organizers.
DIY Kit, H901K-M/H901KI-W, Marubeni Infotech
Posted November 28th, 2007 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
Combining the value of saving up and having fun, Japanese toy company Tomy Co., has come up with a revolutionary piggy bank called the Jinsei Ginko. The idea behind this piggy bank is to of course save up money and have fun while doing it. The saving money part is easy to understand â€“ put in money and you have it saved for a rainy day. Yet what about the fun part?
Typically Japanese, electronics have a large role. In the front panel of the white cube-shaped bank, there is a black and white LCD panel. The owner of the bank can input his target amount and date at the beginning. There is a character displayed who initially lives in a tiny room with 3 tatami mats. Depending on the amount of money in the bank and the rate at which the money increases, the character moves on in life. He even finds a job and marries! However, if you take money out of the bank before the target date, he will be relegated to his original situation in life. Fun, isnâ€™t it?
[tags]Japan, technology, piggy bank, innovation, gadget, Jinsei Ginko[/tags]
Posted February 27th, 2007 by geisha+ | Comments Off