Some of the Best Sights and Sounds from the Japanese Gadget Fest
This year's CEATEC wasn't just about ogling shiny gadgets, but about watching the gear in action. Following, in no particular order, are our some of our favorite video moments from the show:
MuRata’s Bicycle Bot
The best robot we saw, MuRata’s little guy uses gyroscopes to keep himself balanced while riding a mini bicycle.
Oh alright, we tried to resist following the herd and ogling the freaky robotic speaker. But dang, this totally pointless gadget is a lot of fun. So far, it’s a Japan-only product. But we already know hackers who are working on software for it with an interface that Americans can read.
Pioneer's 3D Navigation System
Pioneer displayed a technology concept in which you conjure up 3D images of items you are interested in - such as maps of intersection maps or gas stations, and fling them onto the GPS map to find their locations. Playing with the system would likely quickly become the number one source of road accidents. But it was fun to fiddle with while stationary.
ePaper Phone Pad Arrives Too Late
Japanese Telecom giant NTT was showing off a concept phone with a keypad made of electronic paper that allows symbols on the keys to change for new functions--especially handy in a country with three alphabets, and where Latin script and Arabic numbers are also often used. This would have been a great idea before the iPhone's keypad-less touchscreen came out.
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We kept our eyes out for robots but didn’t find the army of them we had expected. Fujitsu was showing off some domestic bot prototype that seems help you set the table or clean up afterwards. Unfortunately, it can’t also act as a Japanese to English interpreter, so that’s all we could figure out from the demonstration.
Sony’s Bigger OLED Display
While Sony so far can mass-produce only tiny 11-inch TVs, it showed off prototypes of a 26-inch model. Now that’s more like it.
Sharp’s Optical Touchscreen
Move over iPhone. Now there's something touchier. Sharp takes touch display one better. Instead of sensing electrical field disturbances as the iPhone screen does, Sharp’s prototype screen captures images of what touches it, and it can already detect at least three individual touches, vs. the iPhone’s two. Every screen pixel in this gadget is also a photographic pixel. So you can lay a piece of paper like a business card on it and get a detailed digital scan. Samples are going out to un-named phone makers now. (And of course, Sharp itself makes cellphones.)
Lamest Touch Screen Tech
Mitsubishi was showing off an old, tired technology that looks pathetic next to the new Microsoft Surface devices. Like surface, the screen uses a projected image—but projected from above, not below, so your hands obscure the images. And the capacitive screen was very slow to react to our hands, if it reacted at all.
Japanese university researchers showed off a concept lighting product with four adjustable OLED panels. It’s not visible in the video, but the entire booth was illuminated by such OLED lights hanging from the ceiling.