Tag: ‘NEC’

‘Tele Scouter’ retinal-display translation glasses

26 Oct 2009

Tele Scouter retinal display --

Electronics giant NEC has reportedly developed a wearable optical device that interprets foreign languages and projects a real-time translation directly onto the retina, enabling the wearer to communicate with other language speakers without an interpreter.

The prototype device — called “Tele Scouter” — consists of a tiny retinal display and microphone mounted on an eyeglass frame. The microphone picks up the conversation and transmits it to a small computer worn on the waist, which converts the speech to text and translates it into the user’s native language.

The retinal display projects the text directly into the user’s peripheral vision, allowing them to maintain eye contact with their conversation partner while reading the translation. According to the developers, the Tele Scouter can be used for hours on end without eye strain, because the wearer does not have to focus their eye on the displayed text.

Although NEC plans to put a version of the Tele Scouter on the market in 2010, the company admits the device’s translation capabilities are insufficient for real-world applications. So for now, the initial plan is to market the device as a wearable data display for employees in factories and shops.

According to the company, the device can provide instant hands-free access to data such as diagrams and operating instructions, allowing workers to perform tasks more efficiently and accurately. Other possible future applications include car navigation systems and video games.

[Source: Yomiuri]

NEC puts household carbon footprint data online

03 Apr 2009

Carbon Ball game by NEC --

A new online service developed by electronics giant NEC offers carbon-conscious households a fun and friendly way to keep tabs on their energy consumption, as well as that of their neighbors.

Developed in conjunction with major Internet provider BIGLOBE, the service -- called "Carbon Diet" -- includes an easy-to-install wifi-enabled device that attaches to the home circuit breaker and measures power consumption via electric current sensors. The collected data is then periodically transferred to the home computer using a ZigBee wireless link and sent to an online server for processing.

Users can log on to the Carbon Diet website to check their daily and hourly energy consumption and see how they rank in comparison with other participating households. Users can also see how their monthly carbon footprint compares with the same month of the previous year. Based on the degree to which users actually reduce their carbon emissions, they are awarded "eco-points" that can be exchanged for virtual soil, water, flowers and grass in a nature restoration simulation game.

Participants can also view their progress in the form of a game called "Carbon Ball," which features dung beetle avatars in a "carbon ball" rolling contest. The distance each household's dung beetle travels is based on how successful they are in reducing power consumption. The game is designed to instill a sense of competition to keep users motivated and focused on reducing energy consumption.

For now, the three-month trial service is being conducted in the homes of 100 NEC employees. After the trial, NEC and BIGLOBE will work with Ex Corporation (an urban and environmental planning and consulting firm) to analyze the data and develop business models for local governments and the private sector. The company is aiming for sales of 2 billion yen ($20 million) over the next 3 years.

Robot ticketer welcomes cashless thrillseekers

12 Nov 2008

NEC robot ticket machine --

As the use of e-money gains popularity in Japan, versatile FeliCa RFID readers that support multiple forms of electronic currency are popping up in convenience stores and vending machines, making it easier for users to pay with the swipe of a phone. Electronics giant NEC is jumping in on the action with a FeliCa payment terminal modeled after a life-sized android.

The robot -- a prototype that NEC demonstrated at the recent iEXPO 2008 trade show in Tokyo -- incorporates existing technology, which means a finished version can be produced and deployed at short notice. NEC hopes to land it a job at an amusement park selling entrance tickets to visitors with FeliCa-enabled wallet phones, also known as osaifu keitai.

To pay the robot, users simply select the appropriate e-money icon on the robot's chest-mounted touch screen panel and then swipe their phone over the reader/writer embedded in the left hand. The robot can also be programmed to transfer electronic coupons and other data to the user's phone when payment is made.

NEC robot ticket machine --

Other features include a camera system that can work with face recognition technology to identify and profile park visitors. If asked to do so, the robot can recommend specific attractions based on the person's apparent age and gender.

It is unclear whether any theme parks have expressed interest in hiring the robot. If not, NEC could easily equip it with fingerprint scanners and put it to work at immigration counters to gather biometric data on foreigners in Japan. Tourists would love it.

[Source: IT Media]

NEC helps Big Brother watch foreigners in Japan

15 Nov 2007

NEC fingerprint and face scanner --

To anyone planning a visit to Japan, please note: YOU WILL BE TREATED AS A POTENTIAL TERRORIST WHEN YOU ARRIVE. As many foreign residents in Japan are already painfully aware, a new law that takes effect November 20, 2007 will require non-Japanese people entering the country to be fingerprinted and photographed in the name of fighting terrorism.

Over the past few days, Ministry of Justice officials at airports across Japan have been staging promotional events and showing off the new hardware that will be used to collect the fingerprints and scan the faces of the estimated 5 to 6 million foreigners potential terrorists that enter the country each year. The devices, which proudly bear the NEC logo, consist of a monitor, two fingerprint readers (one for each hand) and a camera that captures mugshots. The devices are being installed at immigration counters nationwide so that you can be fingerprinted and photographed while immigration officials ask you the usual questions about the purpose of your visit and your intended length of stay. Your biometric data will then be stored for an extended period of time in a database, which law enforcement officials will somehow use to thwart terrorist attacks.

Under the law, called the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, all non-Japanese citizens -- except for state guests, visitors using diplomatic or official passports, people under the age of 16, and special status permanent residents (such as Korean nationals who grew up in Japan) -- are to be treated as potential terror threats and must be fingerprinted and photographed when they enter the country.

The new law makes Japan the world's second nation to fingerprint and photograph its foreign visitors. The United States was first.

Japanese lawmakers, who passed the law with little public debate, conveniently overlooked the fact that Japanese people -- not foreigners -- are the ones with a proven history of committing terrorism in Japan. Japanese citizens have been responsible for every terrorist incident in modern Japanese history (i.e. the Aum Shinrikyo gassing of the Tokyo subways in 1995). The fact that foreigners have no record of committing terrorism in Japan calls the government's true motives into question.

At the very least, if lawmakers truly believe that blanket fingerprinting and face-scanning is the way to prevent terrorism, then why not require all people in Japan -- citizens and non-citizens alike -- to keep their fingerprints and other biometric data on file? Without a doubt, NEC and other companies that develop biometric system hardware and software would be more than willing to supply the government with the equipment they need for the job.

Regardless, for now at least, the xenophobic government seems content with invading the privacy of millions of law-abiding foreigners who live, do business, visit and study in Japan each year.

Thanks a lot, Japan.

[Photos via Sankei, Asahi]

NEC puts DNA lab in a briefcase (for the man)

25 Sep 2007

NEC portable DNA lab -- NEC Corporation has teamed up with Aida Engineering to develop a briefcase-sized DNA analysis system that allows police to perform comprehensive DNA testing at crime scenes in as little as 25 minutes. NEC is calling the device the world's first portable all-in-one DNA analysis system able to handle all DNA testing processes from extraction to analysis. Designed specifically for law enforcement officials and planned for release in 2008, the system measures 50 x 40 x 20 cm (20 x 16 x 8 in.), making it small enough to be carried to crime scenes or other locations where quick DNA analysis is required.

Nowadays it typically takes about one day to complete a DNA analysis (one week if re-testing or confirmation is required), and a variety of different equipment is used to perform the separate processes. NEC's new portable system, on the other hand, can perform all the processes within the same unit -- and it can do it all more quickly. In particular, the compact unit can be used to: (1) take cell samples, (2) extract the DNA, (3) perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification to generate copies of the DNA, (4) perform electrophoresis to measure the spacing between DNA bands (to create the genetic fingerprint), and (5) perform short tandem repeat (STR) analysis to create a unique genetic profile for the individual. In addition, the compact unit dramatically speeds up the processes -- particularly the repeated heating and cooling processes performed in PCR amplification -- making it possible to complete the entire DNA analysis in 25 minutes.

The system will be exhibited at the 18th International Symposium on Human Identification scheduled for October 1 to 4 in Los Angeles, and at a meeting of the Japanese Association of Sociology of Law scheduled for November 8 in Tokyo.

[Source: NEC press release]

NEC’s drive-thru face recognition system

20 Jul 2007

Drive-thru face recognition system -- On July 19, electronics giant NEC announced it has developed the world's first automated border control system that uses facial recognition technology capable of identifying people inside their automobiles. The system is already in operation at checkpoints on the Hong Kong - Shenzhen border.

Built around NEC's NeoFace biometric face recognition system, as well as NEC's electronic passport technology, the system is designed to boost the speed and efficiency of Hong Kong Immigration Department operations by allowing residents with microchipped national ID cards to remain in their vehicles while automated cameras verify their identities. Hong Kong residents aged 11 or over are required by law to carry a national ID card (HKID), and the recently issued "smart" IDs are embedded with chips that contain biometric and personal data.

The system works by first reading a vehicles license plate as it approaches a border gate. Because each vehicle in Hong Kong is registered to an individual driver, a simple automated database check determines who the driver should be. Next, the cameras scan the face of the driver and a database search is performed. If there is a match, the immigration process is completed and the gate opens, allowing the vehicle to pass through.

For now, NEC's setup only works with truck drivers, but coming improvements promise the ability to identify up to 8 passengers per vehicle. The cameras have been installed at 8 of the 40 border gates on a new road connecting Hong Kong and Shenzhen, with all 40 gates expected to be upgraded by August.

NEC eventually hopes to develop a face recognition system so quick and accurate that it would eliminate the need for fingerprinting.

[Sources: Softbank Business + IT, NEC press release]

PaPeRo robot gets avatar, resides in your devices

10 May 2006

On May 9, NEC announced the development of new technology that enables its PaPeRo household robot to connect with a variety of personal devices. The technology provides PaPeRo with a digital avatar that "follows" you to the device of your choice, where it appears on the screen and interacts with you.

PaPeRo

Details of conversations with the robot and its avatar are exchanged between the devices so that PaPeRo can provide services and information tailored to your needs when you change devices. The avatar, a virtual representation of NECs PaPeRo, is designed to work on computers as well as other personal devices such as PDAs and car navigation systems.

When a WiFi connection is established between the robot and the devices, saved data -- including data about your interests and tastes -- can be shared between the robot and its avatars. For example, after telling the real PaPeRo at home that you would like to eat Chinese food, PaPeRos avatar appears on your car navigation screen when you get in your car. There, the avatar searches for the route from your home to the restaurant of choice and provides directions. The search results can also be easily transferred to your PDA.

The user-friendly conversation-based control is designed to eliminate the cumbersome task of learning how to operate the avatar on multiple devices with different interfaces. Originally developed by NEC in January 1997, PaPeRo has received upgrades in speech and face recognition skills, gaining the ability to provide information to users through conversation and manage schedule information.

NEC has not announced when this new technology will be made commercially available, but has expressed the intent to continue with technological developments aimed at helping inexperienced children and the elderly to operate a variety of devices.

(Watch VIDEO of PaPeRo in action (QuickTime, 1.24 MB). Here, the demonstrator asks PaPeRo for shopping recommendations and instructs it to move to the car navigation system and the PDA.)

[Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun]

KOTOHANA communicates emotions from afar

03 Mar 2006

NEC, NEC Design and SGI Japan have teamed up to develop KOTOHANA, flower-shaped terminals that use LED light to remotely communicate human emotions.

Each KOTOHANA set consists of two flower-shaped terminals equipped with LEDs that change color according to the emotions of the person who owns the counterpart. Each flower contains a microphone that captures voice data for processing, the results of which are sent via wireless LAN to the other terminal, where it is expressed as LED light.

KOTOHANA

KOTOHANA's Sensibility Technology (ST) emotion recognition engine, which was developed by SGI Japan with the cooperation of AGI, detects joy, sorrow, calmness and excitement in speech patterns. Happiness is expressed as yellow, sadness as blue, calmness as green, and excitement as red. Changing emotions are expressed through subtle color gradations and variations in light brightness.

The product is still in the prototype stage, with the ST engine running on a separate computer connected to KOTOHANA. NEC plans to showcase KOTOHANA at CeBIT, the international trade show for information and telecommunications technology to be held from March 9 to 15 in Hannover, Germany.

[Source: Yahoo! News Japan via japan.internet.com]