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Does an Actroid really need mosquito repellent?

August 18, 2013

Kincho Actroid

Every summer, Kincho (an Osaka-based bug repellent-maker) comes up with a new crop of ads as customers once again look for ways to keep mosquitoes at bay. This summer, they’re re-using one of their ads from a few years back (I believe it first aired in 2011), featuring an Actroid robot demonstrating one of their anti-mosquito skin lotions. While it’s eye-catching, I’m not sure how much need an android has for insect repellent, or whether they need to be worried about skin lotions.

While waving her arms around semi-naturally, she says “Insect repellent PreShower is gentle on your skin” twice before asking “Is that all I say?” and then going right back to her prepared line before her companion can respond.

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Amami Yuki Powers Up for Suntory Chu-hai

April 6, 2013

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A cool new commercial from Suntory has just hit the air, featuring Amami Yuki outfitted in alcohol-dispensing powered armor. (the link below has the 15-second version, followed by the 30-second version)

The drink is a canned chu-hai called -196C Strong Zero Dry. Chu-hai is a blend of shochu (a Japanese spirit made from grains or sweet potatoes, fairly similar to vodka), blended with fruit juice or other mixers. The concept behind Suntory’s -196C, which has been on the market for several years now, is that the fruit are flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen, then pulverized and blended into the drink mix. It tastes pretty good, but honestly isn’t any different from any of the other brands of chu-hai available. Later variations included -196 Strong, which had  a higher alcohol content (8%, compared to the normal version’s 5%), and -196C Strong Zero, which had the same alcohol content but less sugar. The newest version, Strong Zero Dry, doesn’t have any fruit flavoring, and so is slightly more bitter than the other variations. I’ve tried it, and it’s not too bad. I’d certainly drink more if I knew I’d be served by models in flying power armor suits.

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Android Dreams, time-lapse video by Samuel Cockedey

November 20, 2012

Samuel Cockedey has produced a number of absolutely breathtaking time-lapse videos of Tokyo and other places in Japan. Android Dreams, which was published last year, sets evening and nighttime shots of central Tokyo against the soundtrack to Blade Runner. The end result is fantastic.

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Music Video: Rise, by Fact (Steve Aoki remix)

November 16, 2012

Fact is a Tokyo-area band described as “post-hardcore” that has been recording since the late 1990s. In addition to their hard-driving sound, blending sung and screamed lyrics (typically on the subjects of alienation and lost love), all backed by intense drum rhythms, Fact is also notable for doing nearly all of their lyrics in English.

This version of Rise is a remix by electronic and house musician Steve Aoki of one of the tracks from Fact’s self-titled 2009 album. The Noh masks are a recurring theme through many of the group’s other videos, and are frequently used by the band members to hide their faces in their videos.

This song could almost be called a Steve Aoki piece featuring Fact, as the only link between this version and the original is the single repeated lyric that appears in both. The Fact version below is extremely different, though also quite good, and is more representative of the band’s style.

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Fujitsu’s New Technology lets Smartphone Users Download Data from TV

November 14, 2012

Fujitsu has recently introduced a new technology that could allow smartphone users to download data directly from TV screens, in a way that uses only their current hardware, and doesn’t block non-users from viewing the show.

via Diginfo TV link

At October’s Ceatec Japan 2012, held at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, Fujitsu demonstrated their new data transmission technology, which lets viewers access program or advertiser information using the cameras in their smartphones. The message information is encoded as variations in image brightness that are too faint for the naked eye to see, but which digital cameras can detect. These messages then act like QR codes,  directing the smartphone to a related website or advertising offer, but without any symbols taking up screen space.

The as-yet-unnamed technology allows data to be transmitted at a rate of 16 bits/second, fast enough that users can access the links within two or three seconds. An additional advantage is that the message can be received from further away than with QR codes, and that the TV screen can be at an angle to the user. The technology requires that smartphones be equipped with special software capable of reading the messages, but this can be downloaded as an app and requires no hardware upgrades. Fujitsu aims to have the technology ready for practical application by 2013.

 

Just speculating, this could be an interesting gimmick for TV programs. Pointing a smartphone at the screen at specific moments during the show could direct viewers to ‘secret’ online content or grant access to exclusive promotions. I’m sure a creative game designer could also come up with some cool augmented reality applications for this technology.

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Panasonic Unveils Their New Head-Massage Robot

October 30, 2012

At Japan Robot Week 2012, Panasonic presented their new head-therapy massager robot, using recently developed robotic hand technology.


The device scans the user’s head to create a 3-D image, which is used to position the robot’s arms and 24 fingers, ensuring a comfortable fit. Panasonic intends to offer the head therapy unit together with its massage chairs, which have been on sale for several years already, as a ‘whole body care’ system.

 

Although the unit on exhibit here was being presented mainly as a massage product, Panasonic had already put it through field trials this past spring in a hair salon in Hyogo Prefecture, where it shampooed, conditioned, rinsed and dried customers’ hair, in addition to providing scalp massages. Sensors built into the unit were designed to detect differences in head shape and hair volume, and adjust performance accordingly. The video below includes English captions and narration.

 

 
Panasonic had earlier presented the robot in its hair-washing version at the 2010 Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition:

 

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Remix Your City – Hifana’s Tokyo Mix

June 14, 2012

To promote the new iPhone / iPad app Fresh Push Play, breakbeat duo Hifana spend a day wandering around Tokyo searching for sounds to record, then turning it into a performance aboard a nighttime party boat in Tokyo Harbor.

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