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Category Archives: Products

Eyeglasses Switch Between Near, Distance Vision

Mitsui Chemicals Inc developed glasses that can switch between near and distance vision just by touching a sensor located near the hinge.

Various frames will be available for the glasses, “TouchFocus,” to meet the tastes of users in their 40s and older.

The glasses were developed by combining Mitsui Chemicals’ “MR” highly-refractive glasses material and liquid crystal lens technologies. They use the company’s own lens made by stacking nine kinds of materials.

An electric circuit is embedded in their frame. When a touch sensor located near the hinge is touched, the TouchFocus is turned on and functions as eyeglasses for far-sightedness.

Compared with commercially-available glasses using lenses for both near- and far-sightedness, the new glasses provide a wider field of view for far-sightedness, and their rims are invisible, according to Mitsui Chemicals.

There is a detachable battery at the tip of the temple. It can be charged with a dedicated charger. The glasses can be continuously used for about 10 hours. In a test participated in by employees of the company, the glasses were used for about two weeks without being charged.

The TouchFocus is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2018. Though the price of the glasses has not been decided yet, it is expected to be higher than the prices of high-grade lenses for both near- and far-sightedness (¥100,000-150,000), Mitsui Chemicals said.

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Panasonic to Release Deodorizing Hanger

Panasonic Corp will release a hanger that can deodorize clothes by decomposing the odors of sweat, cigarette smoke, grilled meat, etc as well as reduce the amount of cedar pollen allergens.

The hanger, “Deodorizing Hanger MS-DH100,” has the “Nanoe X” OH radical generation function. It will be released Sept 1, 2017, with a monthly production volume of 1,000 units and an expected retail price of about ¥20,000 (approx US$179, excluding tax).

The MS-DH100 is thicker than normal hangers. It emits “Nanoe X” from eight ports. This structure makes it easy to send Nanoe X throughout clothes. With an accompanying cover for clothes, it becomes possible to care not only the inside of the clothes but also the outside and more effectively deodorize the clothes in the narrow space than in a closet.

The power consumption of the hanger is about 4.5W. It can continuously operate for about five hours in the “normal mode” and about seven hours in the “long mode,” both of which cost less than ¥1 per use. It is powered by a household power outlet (AC100V) or a mobile battery.

The “QE-AL201” (capacity: 5,000mAh, rated output: DC5V, 1.8A) and “QE-AL301 (capacity: 7,500mAh, rated output: DC5V, 1.8A) batteries enable operation in the normal and long modes, respectively, about one time. The main unit of the hanger is not equipped with a built-in rechargeable battery

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New LED Light Bulb Catches, Kills Bugs

E Balance Co Ltd released an LED light bulb with a built-in electric pesticidal lamp.

The LED light bulb attracts bugs with 385-400nm-wavelength ultraviolet light, which is favored by mosquitoes, etc, and electrifies them to death after they enter the device. Dead bugs are removed by using an accompanying brush or a vacuum cleaner after detaching the bulb. There is no manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the product.

E Balance is a company that plans, designs and sells design-oriented home electrical appliances and creative goods.

The color temperature of the LED light bulb is 6,500K (daylight color), and its brightness is 950lm. The LED lamp and the pesticidal lamp can be separately turned on. By switching on/off the light bulb repeatedly, it is possible to turn on (1) both the LED and pesticidal lamps (power consumption: 11W) (2) only the LED lamp and (3) only the pesticidal lamp (power consumption: 1W)

The new product, which is an E26-base LED lamp, can be used as a light bulb for down light. However, E Balance recommends that potential purchasers check if the product can be attached because it is 94mm in diameter and 167mm in height and larger than conventional light bulbs.

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New Electric Wheelchair Can Be Separated Into 3 Parts

Whill Inc, which develops and sells “personal mobilities,” announced April 13, 2017, that it has developed a new model, “Whill Model C,” and will start shipment in June 2017 in Japan.

The price of the Model C is ¥450,000 (approx US$4,131, excluding tax), which is less than half the price of the “Model A” (existing product, ¥995,000).

Personal mobilities developed by Whill fall into the category of electric wheelchair. But they can run over small bumps without causing discomfort. Also, they are compact and can change direction on the spot. The Model C can travel as far as 16km (approx 9.94 miles) per charge.

“They can be seamlessly used anywhere, both indoors and outdoors, and enable users to move comfortably on a daily basis,” Whill CEO Satoshi Sugie said.

Unlike the Model A, the Model C can be separated into three parts without using a tool and carried in a passenger car, etc, and its rechargeable battery can be detached.

Specifically, the Model C can be separated into the chair, driving part (rear wheels) and front wheels. For this feature, Whill employed a two-wheel-drive (2WD) mechanism in place of the four-wheel-drive (4WD) mechanism used for the Model A. The company newly developed an in-wheel motor in cooperation with Nidec Corp.

However, the Model C can run over up to 5cm-high bumps while the Model A can run over up to 7.5cm-high bumps. And the length of the Model C is 985mm, which is about 10cm longer than that of the Model A (890mm). The length was increased to improve stability when the wheelchair is running down a hill, etc.

On the other hand, the 2WD mechanism eliminates the need for the part that drives the front wheels, reducing the weight by 64kg (from 116kg to 52kg).

The rechargeable battery of the Model C can be detached and charged in a room, etc. The battery of the Model A needs to be charged by connecting a charger to the main unit. Whill developed the new battery module in collaboration with Panasonic Corp.

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Sensor-controlled Outdoor Lamp Comes With Solar Panel, Battery

Optex Co Ltd released an LED lamp that is equipped with a solar panel and a rechargeable battery and has a sensor-based dimming function for outdoor use.

Optex (Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture) is a company that develops and sells sensor-related products. The lamp is expected to be installed for passage ways on the premises of offices/facilities, side roads, etc, where it is difficult to secure a power source.

The light source of the lamp is white LEDs. The lamp incorporates a 5W solar panel and a 7.2V 3,000mAh lithium titanate ion rechargeable battery. The service life of the battery is about 15 years. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the product is ¥98,000 (approx US$860, excluding tax).

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New Earphones Do Not Block Earholes

Ambie (a Japan-based firm) released earphones that do not block earholes Feb 9, 2017.

They guide sound reproduced by driver units(to be positioned behind ears) to earholes by using curved sound-conducting tubes.

The price of the earphones, “ambie sound earcuffs,” is ¥5,500 (approx US$48, excluding tax). The product comes in six colors. It is sold at online stores, select shops, etc. As of Feb 10, 2017, a large number of orders were being placed, and the first lots of some colors were sold out, Ambie said.

According to the company, the shape that does not block earholes solves some problems of conventional earphones. Specifically, the new product reduces load on eardrums, preventing the user from getting tired. It prevents sweat from being accumulated and earholes from being stuffy. It reduces “touch noise” produced by cords scratching each other as well as discomfort caused by “resonating breath.”

For the earphones, Ambie employed a dynamic driver unit equipped with an external magnetic field-type magnetic circuit. Because of their structure, the earphones cannot completely eliminate sound leakage. But the company reduced sound leakage to a level that is equivalent to the sound leakage of commonly-used earphones and does not cause a major problem in daily use.

The Y-shaped cable of the earphones is about 1.2m long. The new product is equipped with a microphone and a remote control. The weight of the main unit (excluding the cable) is about 5.2g.

Ambie is a joint venture between WiL (the US-based venture capital) and Sony Video & Sound Products Inc (a Sony Corp’s subsidiary that deals with acoustic technologies, etc). It was established Jan 11, 2017. It deals with audio products and digital contents by combining WiL’s knowhow in open innovation and acoustic technologies. The earphones are the company’s first product

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Functional Undershirt Detects Drowsiness of Driver

Toyobo Co Ltd and Union Tool Co co-developed a drowsy driving detection system using Toyobo’s “Cocomi” functional material.

The system combines (1) an undershirt using the Cocomi (See related article) and (2) Union Tool’s “Safe Driving Support Tool Drowsiness Notifier DSD” (DSD) drowsy driving detection system. Currently, the new system is being tested by Chunichi Rinkai Bus Co Ltd (Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture).

Toyobo and Union Tool are co-developing an algorithm to detect drowsiness. It detects drowsiness based on the pattern of electric signals generated when the heart is contracting (R wave).

DSD
The DSD is a system using the algorithm and launches an alarm when it detects drowsiness. Union Tool has been selling a system that can be fastened by a belt, a system using electrodes that can be attached to the body by using gel, etc since 2015.

Cocomi
The Cocomi is a film-like conductive material designed for electrode and wiring materials. It is thin and flexible and fits the body even when the wearer is moving, without causing discomfort. The material enables to realize wearable devices that integrate electrodes and wiring with no seam. The wiring has a low electric resistance, making it possible to collect high-accuracy biological data.

New drowsy driving detection system
The new system features an enhanced wear comfort realized by the Cocomi. The accuracy of the drowsy driving detection of the new system is the same as those of the belt and gel types, according to Toyobo and Union Tool.

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Hitachi Maxell’s LED Lantern Powered by Water, Salt

Hitachi Maxell Ltd will release an LED-based lantern that generates electricity by using water and salt Jan 25, 2017.

The lantern, “Mizusion,” emits light because magnesium alloy, oxygen in the air and salt water function as a negative electrode, positive electrode and electrolyte, respectively, and generate electricity.

The lantern can be stored for about 10 years. It is expected to be used as an emergency lamp at the time of disaster, power failure, etc as well as for leisure and outdoor activities.

The lantern has an illuminance of about 2,000lx. It can be continuously used for about 80 hours. And it can be repeatedly used by replacing magnesium alloy called “Power Bar.”

There is no manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Mizusion. The expected retail prices of the main unit of the LED lantern, “MS-T210WH,” and the Power Bar, “MS-MPB,” are ¥2,980 (approx US$26.4, excluding tax) and ¥980 (excluding tax), respectively.

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Omron Healthcare Displays Wristwatch-like Blood Pressure Meter

Omron Healthcare Co Ltd unveiled a wearable device that can measure blood pressure, heart rate and the amount of activity at CES 2017, which took place from Jan 5 to 8, 2016, in Las Vegas, the US.

The device, “Project Zero 2.0 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor (tentative name),” is wrapped around a wrist and can work in conjunction with Omron Connect US App smartphone application. It can record blood pressure in addition to the amount of activity and the state of sleep. However, the measurement of blood pressure is not automatic; the user needs to start measurement while raising his/her wrist to the height of the chest.

The device exhibited this time is the second-generation model. The first-generation model, which was showcased at CES 2016, is also wrapped around a wrist but has a larger size. This time, Omron Healthcare reduced the size of the cuff part and realized a size equivalent to that of a wristwatch. As in the case of the first model, the company plans to obtain a certification from the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Omron Healthcare intends to release the device in 2018. The first-generation model will be released in the spring of 2017 as “Heartvue.”

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Japanese Firms Demo Automatic Laundry Folder

Seven Dreamers Laboratories Inc (Tokyo) will start to accept pre-orders for an automatic laundry folder that it has been developing in cooperation with Panasonic Corp and Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd in March 2017.

The three companies organized an event to announce the laundry folder, “/laundroid1,” at Ceatec Japan 2016, which runs from Oct 4 to 7, 2016, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City, and demonstrated a prototype.

To fold laundry, there are five necessary processes: grabbing, spreading, recognizing, folding and sorting/storing. Seven Dreamers realized the automatic laundry folder by using image recognition technology and AI (artificial intelligence) to recognize laundry and robotics technologies to appropriately fold and place the recognized laundry.

In the demonstration at Ceatec Japan 2015, where Seven Dreamers announced that it was developing the laundry folder, the company demonstrated only two processes: recognizing and folding. This year, however, the company showed all of the five processes, which took five to 10 minutes.

Moreover, Seven Dreamers demonstrated functions to separate towels from T-shirts, sort T-shirts by color and sort laundry by owner.

When dry clothes are thrown into a box located in the lower part of the folder after being washed, the folder recognizes and folds them and stores them in a storage rack in the central part of the folder after sorting.

The dimensions of the prototype are approximately 87 (W) x 80 (D) x 210cm (H), but the product is planned to be smaller. Especially, Seven Dreamers plans to reduce the depth so that the folder can be easily installed.

The first model of the product, for which pre-orders will start to be accepted in March 2017, is scheduled to be shipped in the same fiscal year. Seven Dreamers did not disclose the price or sales target, saying that it will announce them before starting to accept pre-orders.

However, Shinichi Sakane, president and CEO of the company, said, “It depends on the number of units shipped, but we aim to eventually set a price lower than ¥200,000 (approximately US$1,947), hopefully in five years.”

In regard to the robotics technologies used for the arms that handle clothes, etc, Sakane did not disclose the details. However, he said, “If industrial robots had been applied, it would have cost too much.”

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