Hours after a massive earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale struck Japan, an Apple store in Tokyo kept its doors open to hundreds of nearby victims, and instructed stranded employees and their families to stay overnight at the five-story flagship store.
A moved Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, posted two anonymous letters from "an admitted [Apple] fanboy" and Apple store employee in Japan, who wrote at length about Apple's calm, humanitarian response to the quake.
"[With] the phone and train lines down, taxis stopped, and millions of people stuck in the Tokyo shopping district scared, with no access to television, hundreds of people were swarming into Apple stores to watch the news on USTREAM and contact their families via Twitter, Facebook, and email," the letter read. "The young did it on their mobile devices, while the old clustered around the Macs. There were even some Android users there. (There are almost no free wifi spots in Japan besides Apple stores, so even Android users often come to the stores.)"
"Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones. Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world."
Sony has been busy trying to be the best again. Their EL Display, shown at the Display 2008 conference in Tokyo, is a mere 0.3mm thickness. The gadget is composed of OLED technology which doesn’t need back lighting and has a polymer substance that converts electricity to light. Although Sony has been making 3.8-inch OLED displays since 2004, if you just have to have the latest, thinnest display on the block, it will cost you. An 11-inch EL TV (960×540,) shown here, presently goes for ¥190,000 (~$2,000.00.)
Read More | crave
You will some day be able to find your lost car keys with only your PC. University of Tokyo researchers have come up with Memory Goggles. They can recognize and organize visual information of objects after a certain amount of training. They also have an LCD screen built-in so that you can double check the item. The glasses need the aid of a computer tied to the user’s back, which the scientists say will become smaller in time. The team is also hoping that the goggles will be capable of processing information in future robotics.
Read More | neoseeker
Weathernews has found an interesting way to monitor and alert Tokyo to the pollen count. The 200 Pollen Bots measure about one foot across, weigh 2.2 lbs. each, and glow in their styrofoam shells. The color of their eyes change as the count goes up or down. Given to those locals who suffer from hay fever, the recipients monitor the air in their space and send updated results over the Net to Weathernews’ headquarters. We would think that having to purchase a couple extra boxes of Kleenex would be a fairly decent and less expensive indication.
Just as Honda publicly entered the field of robotics with its spokesrobot Asimo, Toyota has 3-upped them with their trio of Partner Robots. Designed to carry out simple tasks for its humans, the first two can not only be programmed for assistance to the infirm or elderly, they can literally play the violin and trumpet. Mobiro was designed as an advanced sort of wheelchair for those who have difficulty walking. Look for him to achieve the status of being a part of Tokyo Disney Theme Park in 2008. Visit Toyota’s site for more robots that are in various stages of R & D.
Read More | Akihabara News
If you lose at the Edogawa Kyotei boat races in Tokyo, you can feed your ticket to their robo-goat. Instigated last month, the 1.6 meter tall Rocky Mountain critter features a white fur coat and ticket-detecting sensors. They say he eats about 500 of them a day and his keeper claims, “It eats up your frustrations so that you will have better luck with the next race.”
We wonder, if your next bet is a loser, too, will the goat eat your shirt?
Read More | Pink Tentacle
Shin’ichiro Nakaoka and his team at the University of Tokyo have created a dancing bot that can imitate dance routines within minutes. The researchers utilized motion capture technology after studying dance instructor Hisako Yamada. They are hoping that the robot can be used to preserve traditional Japanese folk dancing if the knowledge becomes lost in time. Because the dance learned, Aizu-Bandaisan, is mostly concerned with upper body movements, it may be a while before the big guy can move on to hip hop. After watching the video, we would swear there is a guy in that suit.
Read More | DigitalTech News
Tondon has been “hired” by a 14 floor Tokyo apartment complex as its maintenance man. Built by Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries) and Sumitomo, the bot uses an optical communication system to run the building’s elevators and has been designed to sweep, clean, and scrub dirty surfaces both indoors and outside. The next generation of the RFS1 robot, he is also waterproof and features a design to match the Bali-themed decor. Tondon, named after a legenday Balinese snake god, features 4 video cameras and a hard disk so that humans can keep an eye on the little guy while he is also being utilized for surveillance. We call any rent-a-cop who can clean up at the same time deserves Japan’s 2006 Robot of the Year Award bestowed upon him.
Read More | Pink Tentacle