Palmreaders? Japan team builds second skin message display

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This photo taken on February 14, 2018 shows a man holding an ultra-thin elastic display equipped with a light emitting diode, newly developed by Professor Takao Someya of Tokyo University, in Tokyo. (AFP)
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This photo taken on February 14, 2018 shows a man holding an ultra-thin elastic display equipped with a light emitting diode, newly developed by Professor Takao Someya of Tokyo University, in Tokyo. (AFP)
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This photo taken on February 14, 2018 shows a man holding an ultra-thin elastic display equipped with a light emitting diode, newly developed by Professor Takao Someya of Tokyo University, in Tokyo. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Palmreaders? Japan team builds second skin message display

TOKYO: Palmreading could take on a whole new meaning thanks to a new invention from Japan: an ultra-thin display and monitor that can be stuck directly to the body.
The band-aid-like device is just one millimeter thick and can monitor important health data as well as send and receive messages, including emojis.
Takao Someya, the University of Tokyo professor who developed the device, envisions it as a boon for medical professionals with bed-ridden or far-flung patients, as well as family living far from their relatives.
“With this, even in home-care settings, you can achieve seamless sharing of medical data with your home doctors, who then would be able to communicate back to their patients,” he told AFP.
Slapped onto the palm or back of a hand, it could flash reminders to patients to take their medicine, or even allow far-away grandchildren to communicate with their grandparents.
“Place displays on your skin, and you would feel as if it is part of your body. When you have messages sent to your hand, you would feel emotional closeness to the sender,” Someya said.
“I think a grandfather who receives a message saying ‘I love you’ from his grandchild, they would feel the warmth, too.”
The invention could prove particularly useful in Japan, with its rapidly aging population, replacing the need for in-person checks by offering continuous, non-invasive monitoring of the sick and frail, Someya told AFP.
The display consists of a 16-by-24 array of micro LEDs and stretchable wiring mounted on a rubber sheet.
It also incorporates a lightweight sensor composed of a breathable “nanomesh” electrode, and a wireless communication module.
“Because this device can stretch, we now can paste a display on things with complex shapes, like skin,” Someya said.
It can be placed on the human body for a week without causing skin inflammation, and is light enough that users might eventually even forget they are wearing it.
Along with medical applications, Someya hopes the device could eventually lead to wearable displays for joggers to monitor heart rates or check running routes.
He imagines laborers using the displays to consult manuals on their arms while working.
The device will be showcased at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Texas over the weekend.
Someya created the device in partnership with Japanese printing giant Dai Nippon Printing, which hopes to put it on the market within three years.


Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there’s a robot for that

Updated 18 October 2018
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Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there’s a robot for that

  • CarriRo “is designed to roll along the pavements and direct itself via GPS to an address within a two-kilometer radius,” explained Chio Ishikawa, from Sumitomo Corp, which is promoting the robot
  • The lucky recipient of the package is sent a code to a smartphone allowing him or her to access CarriRo’s innards and retrieve whatever is inside — post, medicine or a take-away

TOKYO: Forget the flashy humanoids with their gymnastics skills: at the World Robot Summit in Tokyo, the focus was on down-to-earth robots that can deliver post, do the shopping and build a house.
Introducing CarriRo, a delivery robot shaped a bit like a toy London bus with bright, friendly “eyes” on its front that can zip around the streets delivering packages at 6km/h (4 miles per hour).
CarriRo “is designed to roll along the pavements and direct itself via GPS to an address within a two-kilometer radius,” explained Chio Ishikawa, from Sumitomo Corp, which is promoting the robot.
The lucky recipient of the package is sent a code to a smartphone allowing him or her to access CarriRo’s innards and retrieve whatever is inside — post, medicine or a take-away.
Services like this are especially needed in aging Japan. With nearly 28 percent of the population over 65, mobility is increasingly limited and the country is struggling for working-age employees.
Toyota’s HSR (Human Support Robot) may not be an oil painting to look at — standing a meter tall, it looks like a bin with arms — but it can provide vital help for the aged or handicapped at home.
Capable of handling and manoeuvring a variety of objects, it also provides a key interface with the outside world via its Internet-connected screen for a head.
Japan’s manpower shortage is felt especially keenly in the retail and construction sectors and firms at the summit were keen to demonstrate their latest solutions.
Omron showcased a robot that can be programmed to glide around a supermarket and place various items into a basket. Possibly useful for a lazy — or infirm — shopper but more likely to be put to use in a logistics warehouse.
Japan also has difficulty finding staff to stack shelves at its 55,000 convenience stores open 24/7 and here too, robots can fill the gap.
With buildings going up at breakneck pace as Tokyo prepares to welcome the world for the 2020 Olympics, there are construction sites all over the city but not always enough people to work them.
Enter HRP-5P. The snappily named, humanoid-shaped machine certainly has the look of a brawny builder, at 182cm tall and weighing in at 101 kilogrammes.
And HRP-5P is designed to carry out the same construction tasks that humans currently perform — even when left to its own devices.
HRP-5P “can use the same tools as a man, which is why we gave it the shape of a human — two legs, two arms and a head,” explained one of its creators, Kenji Kaneko from the National Advanced Industrial Science and Technology research facility.
Manufacturers were also promoting the latest in talking robots, which are becoming increasingly “intelligent” in their responses.
Sharp’s Robohon, a cute-as-pie humanoid robot standing only 20 centimeters tall, has been employed since last month to recount to tourists the history of the ancient Imperial capital of Kyoto — in English, Japanese or Chinese.
And very popular among Japanese visitors to the World Robot Summit was a robot replica of Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, one of the country’s top TV stars.
Created in collaboration with Japanese robotics master Hiroshi Ishiguro, the robot replicates the 85-year-old’s facial expressions almost perfectly but conversation with the machine hardly flows.
“The difficulty is being able to create fluid conversations with different people,” said Junji Tomita, engineer at telecoms giant NTT which is also involved in the project.
“The number of possible responses to an open question is so vast that it is very complicated,” admitted Tomita.