Technologies in JAPAN


Gray, rainy days may be about to get more colorful thanks to a new umbrella invented by Japanese researchers. The Internet Umbrella, conceived by a team at Keio University, acts as a photo browser by displaying images from the Internet as the user walks along. The handle of the umbrella contains a projector that displays images on the underside of the umbrella.

Student Inventors
The Internet umbrella, named Pileus (meaning the head of a mushroom) was created by two young graduate students. Second-year doctoral student Matsumoto Takashi, 27, and first-year master’s student Hashimoto Sho, 22, of Keio University’s Graduate School of Media and Governance were motivated by a desire to make walking on rainy days more enjoyable. Both belong to a research lab led by Professor Okude Naohito that is renowned for its interaction design research based on the concept of ubiquitous computing.

Prompted to start this project by the everyday act of using an umbrella, Matsumoto and Hashimoto combined numerous technologies to make the Internet umbrella a reality. The handle of their creation contains a camera, a motion sensor, GPS, and a digital compass. The device is controlled by rotating the grip.


A new humanoid robot, certified as the world’s smallest, will be released this autumn by Japanese toy manufacturer Tomy Company. On October 25, 2007, the Omnibot 17µ i-SOBOT is scheduled to hit the market—as well as the 2008 edition of Guinness World Records, which will list the product as “the smallest humanoid robot in production.” Robotics fans look forward to i-SOBOT as a fun toy to add to their collections, but also as a leap forward in miniaturization of the advanced parts that go into these high-tech tools.


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