News Clips

Organized by Reed Exhibitions Japan, the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Expo in Japan was held at Tokyo Big Sight, from June 28th through 30th, 2017 – this year the term “AI” having gained full currency in Japan. Along with this gathering, other confabs like those centered on content and licensing were found at contiguous venues.


There were several startup businesses ranging from A (as in AI-based database) to Z (offering a product named ZUU Online), in addition to traditional Info-Tech outfits like telecom giant NTT-related companies and major electronics firms, with booths. At the same locale next year the AI Expo will be held from April 4th, 2018.


AI of late has attracted interest generally in Japan due to the popularity of Japanese chess game, known as “Shogi” which in fact is much more complex than the Western cousin, with professional Shogi players mesmerizing the public, while on the other hand a top-tiered professional having lost a match against a computer running an AI program.


As an aside but speaking of games, Japan has many rather unique items including now world-renowned modern card competition like those based on TV cartoon animations (Anime) Yu-Gi-Oh. In passing, at end of this August Japan will host the ABU RoboCon competition in Tokyo where 20 teams from 19 countries/regions will compete based on a traditional Japanese game using paper fan.


In terms of the bigger game of “business” the content exhibit focused on many items related to Japan and Asia, running the gamut from Comics to Video... additionally, there were many artists and designers brought together to highlight their products and services. Some local government entities also appealed their home turf as being conducive to related business in this field.


Of particular interest was the licensing show, as licensing oftentimes provides a link whether for AI software or content programs to actual business world use, with many exhibitors showcasing their wares. One license agent of note was Property Co., Ltd.; they are involved in offering character

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IHI and the New Eneregy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) have developed an ocean currents power generation system as a new technological innovation for sourcing renewable energy that utilizes an underwater floating sytem enabling 100kW-class power generation. A world-first trial for this class of power generation will be conducted this summer in Kagoshima Prefecture, utilizing the “Kuroshio” current running to the south of Japan.


NEDO and IHI, with the engineering firm producing the prototype that has been named “Kairyu” meaning “ocean current” [different from the seadragon Pokemon spelt same in English] being tested this year at its Yokohama Works (in the past the source of many ships), hopes to realize a fully operational system by the year 2020. The Japanese government agency and the famed heavy industry outfit have been working since 2011 to make this possible.

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 A small Tokyo-based company, “bambino” headed by M. Kikuchi, has made inroads into the Japanese pest control market in recent years, by targeting rice providers as well as farmers as in Japan the grain is a staple nationwide. Named in Italian at the behest of business co-founder Ms. Iwasaki, the firm aims to keep a youthful outlook on things, the outfit also has expanded into the market offered by restaurants, especially those catering to noodle lovers, since the main insects attracted to rice and wheat products are weevils/mealworms and the like, in addition to cockroaches and ants that target foodstuff.


The company's mainstay product is called “Mushi Dorobo” (or “MushiDoro” for short), which has as its primary ingredient the oil extracted from the Neem tree, known for its antibacterial efficacy as well as insect killing and fertility reduction factors, hence the use among organic lifestyle purveyors as a toothpaste substitute. It is also said to be effective in repelling mosquitos and other such pests, although it is basically powerless in fending off hornets, bees and such apian stingers as well as larger flies like bluebottles and apparently Tsetse flies, among others. Nevertheless, rats are said to be abhorrent of the substance.


The extract is brought in from India where the Japanese side processes the substance to ensure uniform efficacy, then packaging it in a method (as protected by Utility Model and other intellectual property rights) to enable appropriate distribution of the volatile compound in the atmosphere not to mention in the vicinity of foodstuff to be protected. As an aside, the Neem-derived oil is known to prevent molding due to its antibacterial powers – hence the tree branch has been used by many people in India and elsewhere around the world in brushing their teeth.


One interesting possibility is use in control of dangerous insects as represented by fireants or the like that could attack electrical appliances and electronic devices which attract these pests due to heat emanation. bambino is looking to expand its market overseas. It is foreseen that through other channels the Suginami-headquartered outfit will be able to offer its products globally, including planned items that leverage its present knowhow. As such, it is open to partnerships with other companies willing to help promote their innovative approach. See at “MUSHI-DORO

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NEC, TokyoTech Unveil AI Use for Greater Image Visibility by Automatically Selecting Highly Visible Parts from Multiple Images NEC and Tokyo Institute of Technology have jointly developed a system to increase smallest characteristics contained in non-visible images by AI use for realizing greater visibility upon carrying out detailed examination of each image. AI assesses the degree of visibility for each part, then automatically extracts the best areas from each image, taking environmental characteristics into considerati such as brightness, the direction of light and obstacles. The AI system was unveiled in June of 2017 at Pacifico Yokohama, venue to an annual Image Sensing confab.

In recent years, technological advancements and cost reductions for specialized devices that photograph non-visible images, such as thermal cameras that capture heat as well as X-ray and similar cameras, have enabled them to be used for an expanding range of purposes, including nighttime monitoring under severe weather conditions such as dense fog. However, these cameras tend to provide images of poor resolution and quality in comparison to images taken of visible subjects.

Conventionally, in order to analyze non-visible and visible images of the same subject, images had to be viewed and compared separately, or they had to be manually combined by a trained expert. Moreover, the detection of abnormalities or hazards contained in non-visible images could be easily overlooked when combining multiple images. The new technology will enable facilitated operations, including those requiring image combination.

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