Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Two dimensions of 3D

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An old Saturday Night Live segment once included this joke when Frank Sinatra was still alive:

“‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ is back in town, and sources report nobody’s interested and nobody cares.”

That line came back to me after Sony,  once Japan’s “Big Blue”, announced Thursday its vision of an $11-billion 3D market by early 2013, with three-dimensional PlayStation 3s, TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, cameras, live broadcasting and — the historic staple — movies and theatres.

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Photo credit: REUTERS/Rick Wilking

I attended Sony’s briefing that included a 2D video of its 3D world, plans for 3,000 projector installations by end-2010, a single-lens High-Frame-Rate movie camera (when previously it took two cameras to make three dimensions), and an end-to-end solution still involving glasses.

Brain-powered travel

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It may not look like much, but this run of the mill electric wheelchair runs on brainpower – no hands required.

Part of a joint project between Japan’s Riken Brain Science Institute and Toyota, the chair reads subject’s brainwaves and converts them into movement.

3D TV is on its way

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Whenever I hear the words “3D TV”, I’m reminded of a scene in the 1971 flick Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in which Mike Teavee uses Wonka’s television chocolate machine to miniaturise himself to fit inside a TV screen. As the mini Mike shouts with excitement about his TV debut, his mother reaches into the TV, picks him up and puts him in her purse. As a kid, that was as close as I’d get to 3D TV.

But on Monday, although I wasn’t quite miniaturized, I had the chance to visit a Panasonic plant in Osaka where I put on my own pair of TV glasses and watched 3D TV in a way young Mike Teavee would have loved.

3D images you can touch

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In Sci-Fi films, there’s one thing you never see people use: a mouse and keyboard. In our 21st century world, technology is supposed to have advanced to where all you need to do is talk to a computer for it to respond.

Well, reality may now be catching up with fantasy as a Tokyo University research team takes the first step towards redefining how we interact with electronic machines.

Honda’s new wheel

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It looks deceptively simple: a stool with a wheel, or an electric unicycle.

But Honda Motor, maker of cars, motorbikes, robots and aircraft, says it embodies state-of-the-art technology and may one day become the smallest means of transport for humans.

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I saw the new U3-X at a Honda media launch. It’s shaped like a figure-8 and moves in any direction set by the person sitting on top, by leaning their body back, forth and sideways.

from Left field:

G-strings, the bare-faced solution to swimming’s problems

With the row over space-age bodysuits threatening to engulf swimming, it was only a matter of time before a top athlete lent his voice to calls for a radical, no-nonsense solution.

Japan's Ryosuke Irie reckons racing in skimpy G-strings might be the best way -- indeed the only way -- to ensure a level playing field before the bodysuit wars tie swimming up in so much red tape the public lose interest.

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