Ta­ble ten­nis ro­bot & hon­est mir­ror un­veiled in Ja­pan


A ping pong play­ing ro­bot, a fly­ing origami bird and a mir­ror that some might find a lit­tle too hon­est for com­fort were on dis­play at a huge tech show in Ja­pan on Wed­nes­day.

The gad­gets are all part of this year’s Cut­ting-edge IT & Elec­tron­ics Com­pre­hen­sive Ex­hi­bi­tion (CEATEC), Asia’s largest elec­tron­ics fair, out­side Tokyo.

Prom­i­nent among the pack was a ro­bot arm made by au­to­ma­tion parts maker Om­ron that can play — and coach — hu­mans at ping pong.

“Im­me­di­ately af­ter the player hits the ball, the lo­ca­tion of the ro­bot’s re­turn ball is dis­played on the ta­ble-ten­nis board, help­ing the player’s next re­turn,” spokesman Masayuki At­sumi told AFP.

The ro­bot uses both a cam­era and an ar­ray of sen­sors to de­tect the balls move­ment and play a near flaw­less rally.

The same tech­nol­ogy can be used in ve­hi­cles to avoid col­li­sions, said the com­pany, which is known for its healthcare prod­ucts.

High above at­ten­dees, the sound of flap­ping wings could be heard.

Rohm, a ma­jor maker of semi­con­duc­tor de­vices and other elec­tronic parts, had man­aged to cre­ate a foot-long origami crane bird weigh­ing just 31 grams that can fly thanks to an ul­tra-light mo­tor.

“Mak­ing ev­ery­thing light was a dif­fi­cult part in de­vel­op­ing this,” spokesman Takumi Fu­rukawa told AFP.

The same com­pany has also in­vented a sen­sor which can be placed in lug­gage to re­veal whether suit­cases get bashed around by han­dlers dur­ing flights — and re­veal a suit­case’s lo­ca­tion should it get lost in transit.

Fu­rukawa said the sen­sor was a pro­to­type that they hoped could be com­mer­cial­ized by a lug­gage man­u­fac­turer.

Elec­tron­ics gi­ant Pana­sonic also dis­played their vi­sion of what a hi-tech home could look like, com­plete with a va­ri­ety of gad­gets and ap­pli­ances that com­mu­ni­cate with each other.

That in­cludes a mir­ror which, when hooked up to the rest of the gad­gets in the home, can dis­play your body mass in­dex (BMI) — a mea­sure of body fat based on height and weight — when a user sits down in front of it.

The mir­ror can also gauge how healthy your skin is as well as over­lay vir­tual cos­met­ics on a user’s face to help guide their morn­ing make-up rou­tine af­ter a re­gret­tinged night on the tiles.

The same home also boasted a din­ing room ta­ble and win­dow which can re­act to con­ver­sa­tions — dis­play­ing, for ex­am­ple, im­ages of a re­cent trip a fam­ily might have taken once they start talk­ing about it.

Com­pany spokesman Daisuke Ue­hara said their pre­sen­ta­tion was an idea of what a home might look like in 2018-20.

“There are no con­crete com­mer­cial­iza­tion plans but we al­ready have this tech­nol­ogy to re­al­ize if cus­tomers wanted it,” he said.

About 530 com­pa­nies are tak­ing part in the trade show, around one quar­ter for­eign ex­hibitors from 19 coun­tries and re­gions, led by main­land China, Tai­wan and the United States.

(Left) An em­ployee of Ja­pan’s com­puter gi­ant Fu­jitsu dis­plays a pro­to­type of shoes that con­tain built-in sen­sors that re­lay health data to the wearer dur­ing Ceatec, Asia’s largest elec­tron­ics trade show in Chiba, sub­ur­ban Tokyo on Wed­nes­day, Oct. 7. Data from the wearer’s footwear in­clud­ing pres­sure, cur­va­ture and move­ment can be trans­mit­ted to the user’s com­puter or smart­phone. (Right) Ja­pan’s elec­tron­ics maker Om­ron demon­strates a ta­ble ten­nis ro­bot, which re­turns the ball to an op­po­nent player, at a preview of Asia’s largest elec­tron­ics trade show Ceatec in Chiba on Tues­day, Oct. 6.


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