Technology

Robots, Insects Rule at CEATEC Japan 2012

CEATEC is Asia’s biggest electronics trade show. It takes place each year just outside Tokyo, Japan. This year’s theme is smart innovation.

Over four days, thousands flock to the convention center to witness the spectacle and see what’s next.

I was part of a group of U.S. based journalists selected and flown in to be judges for this year’s event. We scoured the show floor for the most innovative exhibits, paying particular attention to technology that would sell well in the United States.

Some of the things that caught my eye include Shabette, a personal assistant robot from NTT Docomco. She connects with your smartphone to offer helpful information like the current weather, restaurants you might like and music to download to your phone.

Mitsubishi is showing off new high speed elevator technology. The elevators are set to be installed in China’s tallest building. They also have new speech recognition technology – you just get in the elevator and say the floor you want to go to. I saw the demo, but didn’t get to try this myself as it only recognizes Japanese right now.

Toyota is showing off a concept one seater car called the “Smart INSECT.” The car is like a smartphone on wheels. It has a Microsoft Kinect built into the windshield so it can recognize your face before you get in. It then adjusts settings according to your preferences.

Sharp is showing off new “Moth Eye” TV technology that dramatically reduce glare and boost colors.

We also saw an experimental app from a company called KDDI that lets you unlock your smartphone by scanning your palm. They say it’s better than facial or fingerprint recognition since it requires no extra hardware. It uses the existing camera built into smartphones.

Also popular on the CEATEC show floor – eye tracking technology. It lets you press on-screen buttons just by staring at them. I had a chance to try this out and it was pretty amazing. It’s still early in development but there is lots of potential, especially for commuters on trains with just one hand free and the handicapped.

One of the biggest differences between this show and others like it is that a lot of the stuff shown off here is very early concept, which means not everything has a release date just yet.

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