Yoshikazu Tanaka: Japan’s Youngest Billionaire Loses $702 Million In Stock Drop

Yoshikazu Tanaka, Japan’s youngest billionaire and founder of Gree Inc. 3632, lost $702 million today after his social-gaming company plunged by the daily limit in Tokyo on concerns one of its sales methods may be illegal.

Japan’s second-biggest operator of social games fell 500 yen, or 23 percent, to 1,651 yen, the biggest drop since its December 2008 listing, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That wiped out 56.1 billion yen $702 million from the value of the 35-year-old Tanaka’s shareholding, based on calculations by Bloomberg.

Gree led drops among Japanese game-related companies. The Consumer Affairs Agency is considering whether a sales method called “complete gacha” violates the law, Kazuyuki Katagiri, a section chief at the agency, said by phone today. The Yomiuri newspaper said May 5 the agency will ask social-network game operators to stop using the system because it prompts customers to pay excessive fees.

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Japan Planning To Use Robots To Mine The Ocean Floor for everything from methane hydrate to gold

According to a recent media report, Japan plans to use deep-sea mining robots to exploit rare precious metals on the ocean floor around the island nation within a decade.

Yomiuri Shimbun said without naming sources that Japan-Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) plans to deploy the remote-controlled robots at depths of up to 6,600 feet.

The daily reported that experts believe that as some minerals become scarcer around the world, exploiting hard-to-reach underwater deposits and pumping them up to mother ships will become feasible.

Japan and its Asian high-tech rivals are trying to secure rare earths and other minerals needed for products from fuel-efficient hybrid cars and batteries to cellphones and LCD TVs.

According to the report, the project will focus on seabed volcanoes near the Izu and Ogasawara island chain, south of Tokyo, and the southwestern Okinawa islands.

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New $1.2 billion Sharp LCD factory may focus mostly on iPhone

Sharp is spending the equivalent of $1.2 billion on an LCD factory that will primarily serve Apple, reports from Japan’s Nikkei maintained on Thursday. Similar to a Toshiba plant mentioned by the same business paper, the Sharp plant would focus on small and mid-size LCDs but focus primarily on serving the iPhone. Apple would even take on most of the cost of establishing the factory, the paper claimed.

The plant would begin construction next year in Mie Prefecture and would be in full production by the second half of 2012.

Sharp isn’t believed to be a stranger to supplying Apple with displays and has supplied the LCD for the iPod touch. Sharp has also served its own ends and uses a 3.5-inch, 640×960 display in its own smartphones. The soon-to-ship Meizu M9 is thought to use the exact same Sharp screen.

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Japanese Love Doll Brothels

Some people tend to compare Japanese Love Dolls with regular western sex dolls, but in reality, they are on a whole other level. Believe it or not, people actually pay big money to sleep with a doll, at the bustling love doll brothels across Japan.

The first Japanese love dolls were created 30 years ago, so that people with disabilities could enjoy some female companionship, but they quickly became an alternative for healthy men simply to shy to enjoy sleeping with real women. A lot of Japanese men are obsessed with anime and manga girls, and these realistic love dolls gave them the chance to actually fulfill their fantasies of spending some time with their favorite characters. Some have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying dozens of high-end love dolls, made of silicon, and feel much more comfortable in their presence than they would in that of a real woman. They don’t nag, they never complain and they don’t cheat.

Read the rest of the story: Japanese Love Doll Brothels Are Bustling.

HAL- Japan’s robotic outfit to help disabled

Japan’s Cyberdyne may share its name with the company responsible for nuclear destruction and the killer robots of the "Terminator" movie series, but the similarities end there.

And if the idea of a robot suit helping those with disabilities walk sounds like the stuff of science fiction, think again: the real-life Cyberdyne is in the business of revolutionising lives.

The firm produces an exoskeleton robot device called the Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, which in another sci-fi related coincidence shares its name with the devious computer in Stanley Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey".

It gives power to its wearer by anticipating and supporting the user’s body movements using sensors monitoring electric signals sent from the brain to the muscles. Current options are for a single leg device or both legs.

HAL has many potential applications, from assisting caregivers lift people to helping construction workers or even firefighters.

In one case, three weeks of training with HAL enabled a man who had suffered brain injuries to stand on his own feet after nine years in a wheelchair, said Cyberdyne CEO Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor at the University of Tsukuba.

The group is now gearing up for mass-production and started leasing the battery-powered suit to welfare facilities last year.

"Developing robots without utilising them in society would just be an extension of a hobby," Sankai, 52, said. "What I develop should be part of society and benefit people."

A Japanese adventurer with disabilities is planning to leave his wheelchair behind and walk up a medieval French World Heritage site next year with the lower-limb HAL.

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Doctors Anywhere – The Right Tech Makes the Right to Equal Medical Care, Any Time, Any Place a Reality

In regions with a number of rural areas like the Tohoku district, or areas with a large number of isolated islands, crumbling hospital systems due to a lack of doctors is becoming a major issue. The existence of problems with crumbling community healthcare and the uneven distribution of doctors is already widely known by the public, however a formal statistical study on the national level had not been conducted until recently. These issues have become a significant topic of discussion nationwide, and there is speculation that the lack of a formal statistical survey up to this point could have been due to major problems in government. On September 29th, 2010, the long-awaited results of the study conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare were presented. These statistics revealed for the first time formally that the unevenness in the allocation of medical resources in Japan is considerable, and that such disparities are becoming a serious problem.

Tohoku University has developed a system capable of transmitting high-definition images and biological information in a mobile environment, with a consortium being set up to research ways for such technology to be used ubiquitously in health services in sparsely populated areas, medical house calls, population screenings, and on-site care in emergency and disaster situations. After gaining approval from the Medical Ethics Committee of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, clinical testing of the "Electronic Doctor’s Bag," used to facilitate medical care administered in isolated locations, began October 19th in the "Umuyasumyasu-n health clinic" on the isolated island of Miyakojima, in the Okinawa prefecture.

The "Electronic Doctor’s Bag" is a telemedicine system which includes a communication subsystem that allows it to transmit medical information from anywhere, at any time. Since a nurse carrying the "Electronic Doctor’s Bag" can send a patient’s biological information and high-definition images to a doctor at a hospital or clinic in real-time online, they can travel to the home of a patient in place of a doctor, and are able to create an environment similar to that found in face-to-face treatment.

The Electronic Doctor’s Bag consortium consists of Tohoku University, Sony Co., Fukuda Denshi Co., Ltd., OMRON HEALTHCARE Co., Ltd., HONDA ELECTRONICS Co., Ltd., WILLCOM, Inc., Net One Systems Co., Ltd., and Three Links Co., Ltd., and in the 2009 fiscal year, the first prototype was utilized in in-home medical practice trials in Sendai. In the 2010 fiscal year, an improved second prototype was completed and demonstration experiments began on a representative outer island in Okinawa.

In recent years, the inflation of medical costs due to an increase in the elderly population of Japan has become a problem, particularly in the Tohoku area where a lack of doctors has put the existence of numerous central hospitals in danger. As such, the utilization of information and communications technology (IT) in medical services has been attracting some attention as an effective solution to these problems.

Based on these types of circumstances, the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University is making efforts in research toward the implementation of remote medical care for use in remote locations and on isolated islands. Some of the efforts promoted include the "Greater Sendai Area Knowledge Cluster Initiative (Second Stage)," (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), the "Regional Innovation Research Center" (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), and "Development and Research of High-level Service and Medical Information Transmission Systems for Ambulances" (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications). The Electronic Doctor’s Bag cannot be used with a fixed internet connection, however it is characterized by the fact that it can transmit from anywhere mobile communication is possible, specifically remote locations, isolated islands, ambulances, and disaster sites, making it suitable for a wide variety of uses. Of these, the geographical conditions in isolated island environments result in a number of difficult situations for doctors on medical visits, and the need for the Electronic Doctor’s Bag is even greater. The aim of proving tests for the Electronic Doctor’s Bag is to work not only with simulated patients, but actual home-bound patients with the goal of revealing its effectiveness and problem areas.

via Science Links Japan (Gateway to Japanese Sci-Tech Info) – The Right to Equal Medical Care, Any Time, Any Place.

Japan developing cheap satellites for emerging markets

Japan is developing a low-cost surveillance satellite to aid disaster relief and other purposes as it looks to expand its reach into emerging markets, government and corporate officials said Friday.

Japan’s trade ministry is collaborating with NEC Corp. and other companies to develop by 2012 a small satellite costing a fifth of current prices for conventional monitoring satellites, trade ministry official Shuichi Kato said.

NEC will contribute technology it developed for the Hayabusa asteroid probe programme, whose success in being the first to collect asteroid particles during a seven-year odyssey has captured the imagination of Japan’s public.

Kato said the satellite would be ready for launch in 2012 and sales would be aimed at emerging countries such as Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand as well as Dubai and Kazakhstan.

The government is also talking to Vietnam about providing the satellite as part of official development aid, he said.

The ministry estimates that the satellite system would cost about 10 billion yen (120 million dollars), about one fifth of existing satellite systems developed by European and American groups, he said.

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Development of HRP-4, Working Humanoid Robots

Kawada Industries, Inc. (Kawada Industries; President: Tadahiro Kawada), a subsidiary of Kawada Technologies, Inc. (President: Tadahiro Kawada), has developed HRP-4, a new research and development platform for working humanoid robots, in collaboration with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; President: Tamotsu Nomakuchi). In this joint project, Kawada Industries developed the humanoid robot hardware, while Fumio Kanehiro (Senior Research Scientist), Humanoid Research Group (Leader: Kazuhiro Yokoi), the Intelligent Systems Research Institute of AIST and other members developed the motion control software.

The high-density implementation technology used for HRP-4C, the cybernetic human developed by AIST, is applied to HRP-4. HRP-4 has a total of 34 degrees of freedom, including 7 degrees of freedom for each arm to facilitate object handling and has a slim, lightweight body with a height of 151 cm and weight of 39 kg. Furthermore, the HRP-4 control system adopts a software platform OpenRTM-aist and the Linux kernel with the RT-Preempt patch. Therefore, many domestic and international software assets for robot systems, including OpenHRP3, an open-source robot simulator, can be utilized. HRP-4 is expected to accelerate the research and development of next-generation robot systems necessary for the future robot industry, such as human-cooperative robots capable of operating under various environments.

HRP-4 was exhibited at the Annual Conference of the Robotics Society of Japan held at Nagoya Institute of Technology from September 22 to 24, 2010.

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Touchable 3D Television

Norio Nakamura (Senior Research Scientist), Human Ubiquitous-Environment Interaction Group (Leader: Akio Utsugi), the Human Technology Research Institute (Director: Motoyuki Akamatsu) of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; President: Tamotsu Nomakuchi), has developed "i3Space," a system that presents a tactile sensation (sense of touch) and a kinesthetic sensation (resistance) in the air when a user views 3D images; this system enables us to design shapes of objects and to simultaneously confirm how we feel when we touch the objects. This system has been developed by combining 3D television and the small-sized non-base-type haptic interface using sensory illusion, which can present highly sensitive and continuous tactile and kinesthetic sensations utilizing the human sensory characteristics to mistake some vibration patterns as actual tactile and kinesthetic sensations.

This system is an application of the technology that creates the feeling of touch and resistance in the air by presenting virtual tactile and kinesthetic sensations. The system recognizes the user’s movement since the haptic interface is equipped with a marker for position detection; thus, the system can present a tactile sensation and a kinesthetic sensation in real time in accordance with the movement, in order to make the user feel like he or she is touching a 3D image. It is expected that the system will be used in surgery simulators and in 3D CAD (computer aided design), when an interface that integrates tactile and kinesthetic senses in addition to multiple senses such as visual and auditory senses is three-dimensionalized.

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TDK Reveals 1TB Optical Disc – Blu-ray in trouble

Saturday during CEATEC 2010 in Japan, TDK Corp revealed a prototype dual-sided optical disc with a total capacity of 1 TB, trumping the current BDXL specification of 100 GB and 128 GB. One side of TDK’s prototype was shown to contain 16 recording layers of 32 GB each, adding up to 512 GB per side.

According to TDK, this was accomplished by creating a disc material with a high light transmittance. "The material has already been used for part of a Blu-ray disc," the company said during the show. "So, it does not have a problem of, for example, durability."

Read the rest of the story: TDK Reveals 1TB Optical Disc; Blu-ray Frowns.