Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

Sony Tower

Today was our first day outside the regular study abroad schedule.  Most of the other students are on their way back to Detroit as I am typing this.  Nick, Radin and I made our way to Sony Tower in Ginza.  This building is packed with the latest and greatest products Sony has to offer.  I am surprised that it was not on our study abroad itinerary.  Upon reaching the building, I knew it would be a truly Japanese experience.  The technology showed off is years ahead of what the United States has to offer.  The raw technology behind everything was astonishing.  Cameras, cellphones and televisions surrounded us.  The best part about this was the fact that it is all hands on.  Most everything there could be handled and tested.  Radin had a blast testing out the best Sony cameras and lenses.  It was bizarre being allowed to handle cameras and camcorders that cost more than our entire trip to Japan.  The Japanese are extremely trusting of the customer and tourists just visiting.  Sadly, like few other attractions in Japan, no photos were allowed inside.

Company Visit: JR East

Over the duration of this study abroad we have utilized several transportation methods.  Many of the train lines we have rode on were that of Japan Rail, or JR East.  On Tuesday, May 25 we visited JR East’s research and development facility.  There we were lectured on the new technologies that they will be implementing to their railways.  We were also able to get hands on with several prototypes.  The most useful of which the class took full advantage of.  A kiosk which allows users to view and print out train schedules on the spot.  This device needs to be implemented immediately.  I spoke with the JR representatives there and stressed heavily on the importance of these kiosk.  Throughout the duration of the study abroad I have become confused and disoriented in the subways.  Luckily for me, being in a group quickly resolved these issues.  A device that useful should already be installed on every rail station currently in use.  For the most part I feel the people at JR R&D are on the right track… pun intended.

*Image courtesy of Radin Yadolahi


Akihabara is not all that appears to be at a distance.  After walking the streets and visiting several stores, I have concluded that this is a perverted district.  I have seen electronic stores.  I have seen video games and arcades.  There is anime and manga.  The disturbing thing is that no matter what store you go to you will find some porn.  Most places look innocent.  The first floor is everything that you would expect, but watch yourself as you walk up the stairs the floors above.  Hentai posters and body pillows liter the stores.  The most disturbing aspect is the age depicted in most of their “art”.  Most of the hentai everywhere appears to display young girls.  I realize they claim to be over 18, but seriously.  None of this would stand a chance back in the United States.  And I’m only talking about the stores that appear innocent at first.

Part 2:  I revisited Akihabara today with Jared and his brother, who has lived in Japan for the last seven years.  My experience there was completely different from the first day.  Traveling with someone who actually knew the good electronics shops changed my whole perspective on Akihabara.  After visiting several computer parts and collectable video game stores, I now know how Akihabara received the title “Electric City”.  Akihabara just became my favorite destination in Japan.

Technology Review: NTT DoCoMo

The Japanese word dokomo means everywhere.  This is where the company NTT DoCoMo, Inc.  pawned their name.  Their motto of sorts is to deliver the best possible mobile technology everywhere in Japan.  The rough translation of their official name is actually the abbreviation of “do communications over the mobile network”.  NTT DoCoMo is the leading mobile service provider in Japan with over 53 million customers; currently over half the cellular market in Japan, and for good reason.  The technology that the company’s research and development, R&D, produces is top of the line and next generation.

In just the short time visiting NTT DoCoMo’s R&D facility, it is safe to say that they’re continuing the trend of extensive advancement into the mobile communications market.  Several of the technologies that our class demoed were far beyond our expectations.  If current cellphones in Japan are years beyond those in United States, then what we witnessed is surely decades away for America.

The first piece of technology introduced to us was that of the future of mobile phone interfaces.  In the demo, students were instructed to wear special glasses which could interpret the technology.  These special glasses presented the wearers with a 3D representation of a city.  In this virtual map, the users are able to interact and alter their positioning in real time.  This could very well be the next step for Google Maps: Street View.

Continuing on our tour, more student volunteers were able to demo the technology hands on.  The next piece of technology introduced to us was very futuristic indeed.  The inclusion of microchips, called ID tags, in clothes could allow shoppers to take a virtual closet with them on the road.  Sensors in your home’s closet could detect and transmit clothing information to you in a store.  This information would then be used by the stores computers to match clothing styles, colors, and trends.  The final aspect of this technology was the staging of a holographic image.  The hologram would display the user wearing the desired article of clothing interested in buying.  This technology may be years away from implementation, but rest assured it is coming.

In the next presentation, NTT DoCoMo explained to us their LTE, Long Term Evolution.  LTE’s primary purpose is to expand area coverage and increase the data speed there in.  The construction of mobile radio transmitters across Japan would greatly relieve traffic loads and improve data transmission.  These smart transmitters can expand and shrink area coverage depending on the traffic loads of the area.  The primary benefit of this technology was demonstrated to us by showing simultaneous real-time HD quality footage over twelve screens just using a mobile connection.

The amazing thing is that LTE uses existing 3G technology to provide data speeds of up to 300Mbps.  To put things into perspective, average fixed line broadband speeds in America are a mere 8Mbps.  LTE was originally proposed under the Super 3G designation.  This expansion is merely a stepping stone towards the introduction of a 4G network.  The LTE communications area will be expanded in stages by overlaying existing 3G areas.  LTE phone devices are also compatible with older 3G technologies, allowing for a seamless transition into 4G.  With future expansions into LTE this fall and 4G in the future, the NTT DoCoMo is sure to maintain and expand its user base.

Company Visit: Q? Entertainment

This was my favorite company visit.  I have played Q? Entertainment games in the past, like Lumines, but could not believe I was actually going to meet the developers.  The first thing I remember about this visit was running to be on time.  We had taken a wrong turn to get to the building and what was supposed to be a 5 minute walk turned into 10 minute all out run.  Once we made it to Q? Entertainment we navigated up the smallest staircase i have ever been in.  I still feel claustrophobic thinking about it.  The presenters were very personable and I could not have been happier at where I was, especially with the comfortable chairs and complimentary waters.  Sadly, I cannot talk about much of what they showed us at it was pre-E3 footage.  Unbelievable!  The last thing I remember was getting cold looks from Dr. C. during the presentation.  I thought I had done something wrong.  It turns out that Kiya fell asleep next to me and he was signaling for me to wake her up.  All in all a great company visit!

Company Visit: FutureScope and Lucent Pictures

This company visit was awesome.  We were given 3D glasses and were then shown footage of images and movies currently being converted into 3D.  Personally I felt the anime drawings stood out the best.  Shifting my head side to side, I swear I could see the still pictures move.  I was fascinated by covering one eye then the other to see the differences in the images and to see how exactly they could trick my eyes.  We as MSU Spartans were then shown a sneak peek at the 3D conversion of 300!  It was rather fitting as the entire class went wild.  After all of the demos we then played a highstakes game of rock, paper, scissors.  I felt bad as I had won on two separate occasions and was awarded with an Otaku towel and a signed fan by the CEO of FutureScope.  Sharnise had won three separate items, so I didn’t feel too bad…

Company Visit: DNP (Dai Nippon Printing)

Our second company visit was to DNP.  Dai Nippon Printing stands for Great Japan Printing.  The technology showcased was innovative to say the least.  On the demo floor, we saw a variety of new technologies, many of them directed at museums.  The first thing demoed to us was a model car and projector.  This was unique in the fact that when I touched the car, the projector automatically sensed where and showed the internal workings  of the automobile, or change in colors.  i had no idea that it was possible for a projector to process the sense of touch from where it projected.  The second object we saw was a 3D televisions that required no glasses.  now, DNP did not develop the television, but rather the technology used to create 3D movies from a 2D source.  One thing that caught my eye were ceremonial scripts hanging on the wall, or at least that’s what they appeared to be.  When we walked closer we realized that they were not physical canvases at all, but rather HD televisions projecting images.  DNP had developed an attachment that auto corrects contrast and color to more realistically represents the original image.  I can vouch for that.  I was completely fooled!  DNP is a very innovative and successful Japanese company.