CEATEC Japan 2007
SAN FRANCISCO — American technology thought leaders forming the Tech-pert Panel recognize the 12 most innovative products at CEATEC JAPAN 2007. This independent advisory panel, announced by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) San Francisco, viewed hundreds of technologies, services and products debuting at CEATEC JAPAN 2007. They identified exhibitor technologies based on innovation and potential influence in the U.S. market in categories ranging from home entertainment, mobile, computing networks, automotive and more.
One panelist, Switched.com editor Tom Samiljan said of CEATEC JAPAN 2007, “The multitude of R&D exhibits may make it sometimes seem like a science fair, but what a science fair! There’s more gee-whiz per square meter here than any trade show I have been to here.” Samiljan went on to say, “The coolest trends [at CEATEC] for me were the ultra-slim Flat Panels and the hand-gesture-based/motion-sensitive interfaces enabled by Toshiba’s SPURS Engine and Pioneer’s 3D navigation driving system prototype, among others. The success of the Wii and its motion sensitive gameplay in the U.S. is an indication that this seemingly oddball way of controlling your TV, car or desktop is the direction many interfaces will go in the coming years.”
The panel, led by CNET Networks’ editor at large, Michael Kanellos, includes Sean Captain of Popular Science, analyst Richard Doherty of Envisioneering Group, Tom Samiljan of Switched.com, and Auri Rahimzadeh of The Auri Group. They used the following selection criteria when considering the wide range of items they viewed at CEATEC JAPAN this year:
- The technology, product or service must be on exhibit at CEATEC JAPAN 2007
- The technology should show some sort of influence, relevance or potential impact for the United States market
- Based on the opinion and experience of the panel, the technology should show great innovation, and this could include a unique function
- A technology may also be recognized for offering consumers ease-of-use
- The technology should offer a unique solution for an emerging need
- Special consideration was given to any technology that includes advancements in sustainability, alternative energy or energy efficiency
The selection process was democratic in nature and was not based on applications submitted by exhibitors. Each panelist offered product ideas for consideration and then voted yes or no to include them in the final grouping. A technology needed three of five votes to be included as one of the top innovative technologies from CEATEC JAPAN 2007. All technology categories were considered equally and the panelists were encouraged to make their selection based on the criteria above. The final vote identified the 12 products or technologies listed below.
Panelist Michael Kanellos said of the exhibitors at CEATEC JAPAN 2007, “Toshiba impressed me the most with the pure breadth of innovations introduced at the show. The company also demonstrated how their components and other technologies might be used by consumers in the future. Toshiba tried and succeeded in many cases in truly going beyond the ‘feeds and speeds’ mentality.” Kanellos also identified JVC and mentioned, “JVC was also impressive. The company does not get a lot of attention in the U.S.; however, they are clearly trying to show how their inventions will make their products different. The company also seems more intent on ensuring that lab developments make it to market.”
The U.S. Tech-pert Panel would like to formally recognize the following CEATEC JAPAN 2007 exhibitors for their innovations and contributions to the technology market:
Field Emission Technologies’ nano-Spindt Field Emission Display (FED)
This Sony-spinout company debuted a 20-inch prototype high definition display sipping as little as five watts in dark scenes, and less than most LCD screens in the brightest (all pixels on) scenes. For slimness, rich color phosphors and energy efficiency, their future commercial displays will empower both quality-conscious broadcasters and appeal to consumers for size and energy advantages. The display renders an amazing 240 frames each second – the fastest flat panel speed of any video display type. Fabricated using proven semiconductor nano technologies, these FEDs represent the finest chance for consumers and professionals to soon enjoy long-life, direct-emission phosphor CRT-like color quality and richness in flatter video panels which produce light more efficiently than existing designs. – Richard Doherty, Industry Analyst from the Envisioneering Group
Pioneer’s Image Recognition Car Navigation System
Pioneer’s prototype brings together all the technologies that can make driving as safe and easy as possible. That’s especially valuable in a world with spiraling road congestion and ever-more driver distractions. The system combines traditional GPS navigation with a camera and advanced image recognition software that analyzes the road ahead. The live video features valuable visual cues—such as an arrow pointing to a hidden upcoming turn or a measurement of the distance to the next car (along with a warning if you get too close). And recognizing that driving should be not just a chore but a pleasure, the image recognition system even scans the horizon, decides how unique the scenery is, and proposes more interesting alternative routes when it can. Having seen these capabilities, it’s hard for us to imagine going back to today’s utilitarian GPS systems. – Sean Captain, Popular Science
NTT DoCoMo’s Wellness Phone
NTT DoCoMo’s Wellness Phone takes readily available health-related sensors and common software applications and pulls them into an all-in-one concept phone that would likely become an icon of the booming consumer health industry in the U.S. This combination cell phone, heart rate monitor, burned calorie counter, body fat calculator and breath analyzer, estimates this information based on age, gender, height and weight. It then sends that information to a server so that consumers can easily monitor changes and share them with health professionals. The Wellness Phone offers more than halitosis prevention; it could also maximize the communication potential of a cell phone with health information services. – Auri Rahimzadeh, The Auri Group
Nissan’s Safety and Environmental Technologies
Nissan is out to explore and exploit a dimension not often considered when developing a car: the world outside the car. The company provided demos of the latest ITS and electronic technologies including the “Around View Monitor” and “Distance Control Assist.” They also discussed the potential of products designed to teach safer and eco-friendly driving. Nissan is looking at ways to analyze traffic patterns or other cars in the vicinity to reduce accidents, improve fuel economy and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Just as important, the company is studying ways to ensure that these technologies will be accepted and used regularly by customers. – Michael Kanellos, CNET Networks’ editor at large
1 LTD’s Beam2Me®
1 LTD showcased Beam2Me®, which enables directional audio projection. This could truly change the way consumers and businesses listen to audio. The demonstration at CEATEC JAPAN recreated a living room environment where a couple could enjoy two different television shows while sitting on the same couch. Each consumer could listen to their own programming without headphones and without sound from the alternate show. Imagine the implications for today’s personal entertainment loving American; truly discrete directional audio offers limitless applications for a multitude of environments, including home, gaming and automotive. In conferences and meetings, consider the implications to a multilingual audience, where one part of the audience can hear the native language, while other areas of the room could be hearing a second, third, or fourth language. – Auri Rahimzadeh, The Auri Group
JVC’s LED Backlight LCD Television
Flat-Panel TVs remain one of the most-popular technology products in the U.S. And while bigger is still seen as better, picture quality is becoming steadily more important. JVC is aiming for optimum performance with its new high-contrast and high-color panel. It uses a light-emitting diode backlight, which is mercury-free (unlike the fluorescent backlights in most panels) and energy efficient. Using local dimming technology, it individually modulates 128 clusters of LEDs to achieve a superlative contrast ratio–estimated at 100,000 to 1—which provides great depth and detail in images. And instead of the white LEDs in other high-contrast panels, JVC uses clusters or red, green, and blue lights that radically expand the color gamut to 116% of the old NTSC color standard. Several companies have, frustratingly, implemented either the high-contrast or high-color technologies. JVC is the first to bring both together. – Sean Captain, Popular Science
NEC’s FieldAnalyst with Age and Gender Recognition
This was the most controversial pick. FieldAnalyst is a software program that analyzes video feeds from a camera using a database of 10,000 faces and then tries to determine the age and gender of people passing by. The idea is to try to help malls and other public places target their marketing more effectively based on who is walking past, by getting more information about their customers through passive analysis. Passive analysis is a growing topic among start-ups in the U.S. Some panelists worried about the performance and, more importantly, privacy and security implications. Others thought it was an interesting twist on how to analyze traffic patterns unobtrusively. Either way it was fun to be part of the demo. – Michael Kanellos, CNET Networks’ editor at large
Sharp Electronics’ System LCD Module with Embedded Optical Sensors
Stand by iPhone lovers, Sharp Electronics is showing off a touch screen that lets you control a phone or other device with the swipe of a finger. Or actually, three fingers. Consumers can flick to shrink the size of images, blow them up, and scroll left to right or up and down. Now Sharp allows you to use three fingers or more for even more functionality. Gesture sensing technology was a major theme of this year’s CEATEC and it seems that gestures will become a significant way to input data or control devices in the future. – Michael Kanellos, CNET Networks’ editor at large
Though seemingly useless, the Rolly got our nod for its originality, sense of fun, and smooth operation. It mixes two qualities for which its creator, Sony, is known: audio and robotics, and the idea of a dancing music player could only come out of the creative and fertile minds typically found in a Japanese R&D lab. The robotics are graceful and it actually sounds good, considering the device’s small size. The Rolly is the quintessential “only-in-Japan” gadget, but we think with the right marketing idea, and a considerable drop in price, the Rolly could well become the pet rock/Tamagotchi of 2008 in the U.S. Yes, it’s whimsical, and never thought we needed a Rolly, but now we’re not sure if we can live without one. – Tom Samiljan, Switched.com
Hitachi’s Blu-Ray Camcorders (DZ-BD7H and DZ-BD70A)
High-definition video technology is booming in the United States—not only for passive consumption of Hollywood media but also for do-it-yourself creators. Many high-definition camcorders are available in the U.S., but they are tied to old-fashioned media such as magnetic tape and mini-DVDs. Hitachi has brought home movies fully into the HD era with the world’s first camcorders featuring Blu-ray disc drives. With built-in editing tools, they make a seamless link from creating, to refining, to playing on a home TV—without requiring a trip to the computer to process the video. And Hitachi didn’t just tack on a Blu-ray recorder. By using a new, lower-power image sensor and an energy-efficient drive, it achieved a very useful battery lifetime of 80 minutes in a compact design. The inclusion of a hard drive in the DZ-BD7H makes it the ultimate camcorder, capable of capturing video to portable or fixed media, and enabling the user to burn hand-out copies on either Blu-ray or standard DVD discs. – Sean Captain, Popular Science
Panasonic’s and Toshiba’s High Definition Recording on DVD Media
Using powerful, energy-efficient real-time transcoding chips to transform broadcast, satellite and cable MPEG2 streams into H.264 (MPEG4) files one-third to one-half smaller, both Panasonic and Toshiba demonstrated blue and red laser HD recorder prototypes with internal HDDs which will enable (permitted) HD program archiving to affordable red laser DVD media. This enables consumers to put up to two hours of HD on a DVD recordable disc and 6 hours (Toshiba) and 9 to 18 hours (Panasonic) on a blue laser disc. Scant days ago, the DVD Forum finally approved HD “red laser” economical DVD recording, and both companies have responded with polished, powerful consumer prototypes. Previously, the high performance transcoding needed to accomplish this required a rack full of electronics. – Richard Doherty, Industry Analyst from the Envisioneering Group
Toshiba’s SpursEngine High-Performance Stream Processor
Two shows ago, Toshiba touted the first non-PS3 Cell processor prototype computer programming boxes. Today, with both hardware and dozens of third-party software tools and environments to take advantage of parallel Cell engine power and speed, Spurs empowers consumers with natural motion interactions with PCs and future CE products. From real-time facial makeup and wardrobe rendering to handling hundreds of TV channels and sound sources simultaneously, SpursEngine partners may boost demand for Toshiba AVC co-processors in powerful, real-time streaming consumer-friendly products. – Richard Doherty, Industry Analyst from the Envisioneering Group
Honorable Mention to Fujitsu for Accessibility and Language
International attendance is soaring at CEATEC, making it even more important for businesses to offer information to guests from other nations that will allow them to appreciate the products and technology demonstrations. The Tech-pert Panel would like to offer special thanks and recognition to Fujitsu for supplying the finest second-language literature, booth personnel and graphical explanations at CEATEC JAPAN 2007.
According to the panelists, attending CEATEC JAPAN 2007 is truly a unique experience and Envisioneering Group Analyst Richard Doherty identified one showcase in particular that exemplified a special CEATEC moment, “NHK was able to make a social connection, putting a smile on each attendee as they passed through the booth. In association with JEITA, NHK’s Power of Television Broadcasting showcase displayed Japan’s analog to digital television transition over the past five decades, along side the latest in flat-panel HDTVs.”
Following CEATEC JAPAN 2007, the Tech-pert Panel plans to participate in a round table discussion at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2008 in Las Vegas hosted by CEATEC and IFA to share their insights into the future of the industry.
For more information on CEATEC JAPAN 2007, please visit http://www.ceatec.com.
About CEATEC JAPAN:
Since its inaugural event in 2000, CEATEC JAPAN (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) has brought together under one roof the latest in technologies, products and services that form the foundation of today’s digital society. With each passing year, CEATEC JAPAN has become increasingly recognized as a “Comprehensive Exhibition of Cutting-Edge IT & Electronics”.
JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) is a government-affiliated organization that promotes mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. JETRO is supporting CEATEC in U.S. media relations and has chosen GCI as the authorized public relations agency.