Tag: ‘NTT’

Elfoid: Humanoid mobile phone

04 Mar 2011

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Elfoid -- a REAL android phone

Robotics researchers from Osaka University have teamed up with NTT Docomo and Qualcomm to develop a handheld humanoid phone that brings a new dimension to mobile communications. A prototype of the device -- called "Elfoid P1" -- was unveiled at a presentation in Tokyo on March 3.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --

The Elfoid phone is a miniature version of the Telenoid R1 robot developed last year by a research team led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. The current prototype measures 20 centimeters (8 in) long, is covered in a soft fleshy urethane skin, and has the same genderless and ageless appearance as the Telenoid. The control buttons are embedded in the chest, which glows green when the Elfoid is in use.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Dr. Ishiguro with Telenoid and Elfoid [Photo by: eSeL.at]

Like the full-sized Telenoid robot, the Elfoid handset is designed to add an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of a remote user.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo: Ars Electronica]

Equipped with a camera and motion-capture system, the Elfoid phone will be able to watch the user's face and transmit motion data to another Elfoid phone, which can then reproduce the face and head movements in real-time.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: d_&_r]

The current prototype is unable to move, but future versions will incorporate tiny motors and parts made from shape-memory alloys, allowing the Elfoid to move its eyes, mouth, neck and arms. Other features will include a temperature sensor, accelerometer, and an easy-to-use voice and gesture based interface.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: antjeverena]

The developers hope to have a fully operational Elfoid mobile phone within five years.

[Sources: ATR, Gizmodo Japan, Yomiuri]

SoftBank Mobile testing smart movie posters

03 Sep 2008

Wall-E --

Japan's first field test of "smart posters" using Near Field Communication (NFC) -- a short-range high-frequency wireless communication technology that lets users view digital content simply by holding their compatible cellphones near the posters -- is being conducted at a Chiba-area shopping mall, it was announced on September 2.

Major phone operator SoftBank Mobile, along with NTT Data, Hitachi and Dutch smart chip maker Gemalto, are testing the technology with WALL-E and Tinker Bell movie posters embedded with NFC tags.

Throughout October, selected test participants will be able to receive and view digital content such as movie stills and trailers simply by holding their NFC-compatible phones (containing NFC-USIM cards) next to the smart posters. Along with the digital content, users also receive an access code that, when transferred to a compatible Hitachi HDTV at home, allows them to view a WALL-E trailer in high definition (via Hitachi's content distribution service).

The tests, which are designed to help the companies evaluate the effectiveness and potential of NFC smart posters as a promotional medium, could be a sign of things to come in the field of poster advertising. Should NFC smart posters become cheap and easy to produce, they have the potential to replace the ubiquitous QR (2D) code that commonly appears in Japanese advertising posters. NFC is seen as more convenient than QR code because the user does not have to scan a code and visit a separate website to view the data. Instead, digital content can be accessed directly with a simple swipe of the phone.

[Source: Nikkei Net, NTT Data]

Docomodake’s last supper

29 May 2008

Appetizing dishes of NTT DoCoMo's mushroom mascot were served up in artist Rika Eguchi's "Last Supper" installation at last year's "How to Cook Docomodake" exhibition in New York. Photos by Marius Watz.

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --
Smothered in special sauce

More scrumptious photos at watz's Flickr photostream.

NTT Firmo transmits data through skin

24 Apr 2008

RedTacton human area network -- NTT has begun selling a device that transmits data across the surface of the human body and lets users communicate with electronic devices simply by touching them, the company announced on April 23.

The new product, called "Firmo," consists of a card-sized transmitter carried in the user's pocket. The card converts stored data into a weak AC electric field that extends across the body, and when the user touches a device or object embedded with a compatible receiver, the electric field is converted back into a data signal that can be read by the device. For now, Firmo transfers data at 230kbps, but NTT is reportedly working on a low-cost 10Mbps version that can handle audio/video data transfers.

Firmo is based on NTT's RedTacton human area network (HAN) technology, which is designed to allow convenient human-machine data exchange through natural physical contact -- even through clothing, gloves and shoes.

NTT initially hopes this human area network technology will appeal to organizations looking to boost convenience and security in the office. Obvious applications include secure entrances and keyless cabinets that recognize employees when they touch the door handle (thus bypassing the need for card-swipers and keys), or secure printers that operate only when you touch them.

For now, a set of 5 card transmitters and 1 receiver goes for around 800,000 yen ($8,000), but NTT expects the price to come down when mass production begins.

[Source: RBB Today]

NTT to test digital aromatic signs

18 Oct 2007

Digital aroma-emitting sign by NTT -- NTT Communications (NTT Com) has announced plans to begin testing its latest aroma-emitting digital sign technology, called "Kaoru Digital Signage," in Tokyo. The tests, which will take place outside the Kirin City Beer Hall in the underground Yaesu Shopping Mall (JR Tokyo station) from October 21 to the end of December, will involve internet-controlled signs that display electronic imagery of beer while emitting aromas such as lemon and orange. The researchers aim to study the sign's effectiveness in drawing passersby into the restaurant.

Billed as the world's first advertising sign system capable of emitting multiple aromas while displaying electronic images, the signs combine NTT's Spot Media digital signage service (currently used in marketing and customer service applications at banks, hospitals, public offices and retail stores) with its Kaori Tsushin online fragrance communication service. Kaori Tsushin, which gives users web-based control over aroma-emitting devices, is already in use at retail stores and cafes, where it is reportedly helping to improve on-site customer satisfaction.

NTT's new sign system consists of a 30 x 50 x 15 centimeter (12 x 20 x 6 inch) aroma diffuser, a 19-inch display and an NTT Spot Media content receiver, which are used to deliver aroma and display images of beer (and live shots from inside the restaurant) based on instructions received via a web connection. In the tests, the sign's smell will change according to the time of day, dispersing appetizing orange and lemon aromas at lunchtime, and releasing a more relaxing "woody" aroma at night.

The aroma diffuser contains three 450-milliliter bottles of aroma oil. When the "recipe" -- which determines the type and strength of smell -- is received via the web, the device releases a vapor created by blasting the oil with a series of ultrasonic waves. With the ability to deliver fragrances across a 500 square meter (5,400 square feet) area, the new aroma diffuser is a great deal more powerful than NTT's Aromageur, which was developed for personal use in spaces the size of a small bedroom.

The scheduled testing follows a spate of aroma-related experiments conducted by NTT earlier this year. On Valentine's Day, NTT researchers conducted an experiment with vanilla fragrance in an office lobby. When vanilla fragrance was periodically released near free chocolate (labeled with a "Please Take One" sign) placed on a reception counter, the researchers found that passersby were nearly twice as likely to take a chocolate. In other experiments conducted at Tokyo-area bookstores from May to September, relaxing orange and lavender aromas were found to boost monthly sales by nearly 5%.

[Sources: NTT press release, IT Media]

Cellphone recycling bins at Tokyo convenience stores

22 Jun 2007

Cellphone recycling bin -- On June 20, NTT Docomo and am/pm Japan announced plans to begin equipping convenience stores with cellphone recycling bins, making it easier for people to recycle their unwanted devices.

Since 1998, Japan's wireless providers have been recycling unwanted phones in their own stores for customers who switch models or cancel their contracts. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly common for customers to wait a while before recycling their old handsets, mainly because they hold greater amounts of important data that needs to be accessed even after switching models. Most users eventually decide to dispose of their mobile devices, though, so NTT is hoping they will make use of these recycling bins.

The recycling bins, which will initially be set up at eight convenience stores in central Tokyo, are open to unwanted handsets of all makes and models. The bins are also designed to prevent theft of the contents.

In 2005, NTT harvested 37,993 kg (42 tons) of copper and 145 kg (320 pounds) of gold from discarded handsets.

[Source: MYCOM]

NTT’s Tangible-3D display

21 Jun 2007

NTT Comware Tangible-3D Technology -- Researchers at NTT Comware have just made virtual reality a little more real. On June 20, the company unveiled a 3D display system that reproduces the physical feel of three-dimensional video by means of an actuator glove worn on the hand, allowing viewers to literally reach out and touch the person or object on the screen.

The so-called "Tangible-3D" prototype system is built around an improved version of NTT's 3D display -- originally developed in 2005 -- which displays 3D images without requiring special glasses. The system relies on a pair of cameras that capture and process data about the position, shape and size of objects as they are filmed. As the two video images are combined into a 3D image that is displayed on the screen at the receiving end, the data is relayed to the glove, whose array of actuators translate it into a tactile impression the user can feel. The glove operates in real-time along with the 3D video, so the user can "feel" the on-screen image as it moves.

For now, the Tangible-3D system only works in one direction, but NTT Comware is developing a two-way system that allows tactile impressions to be transmitted back and forth between multiple users. The company is also working to improve the 3D screen, which only appears three-dimensional from a particular viewing angle.

While the possibilities for this technology are endless, NTT Comware suggests it could be put to use in museum exhibits that would allow visitors to handle items on display that are ordinarily off-limits. The company also says this technology could be put to use in classrooms, where it would allow students to touch objects located very far away.

NTT Comware will exhibit the Tangible-3D system at the Industrial Virtual Reality Expo being held at Tokyo Big Sight from June 27 to 29.

[Source: NTT Comware press release via Mainichi]

NTT’s cellphone-operated remote control home system

25 Apr 2007

Cellphone-operated remote control home ---

NTT-Neomeit, an NTT subisidiary, has unveiled plans for a convenient and inexpensive service that allows users to remotely control home devices from their cellphones. Scheduled for launch in September, the "U-Consento" service is designed to be compatible with a wide range of existing home appliances, so users do not need to purchase new devices or perform extensive home rewiring.

To control devices, users access a web page via cellphone and select the desired operations. The commands are then sent via the web to a wireless router in the home, which relays signals to an infrared transmitter and remote control power switches. The infrared transmitter, which operates like a universal remote, relays those signals to remote controllable devices such as home A/V equipment. Easy-to-install remote control switches connected to power outlets allow users to turn on and off the power to lamps and other devices not pre-equipped with remote control.

Cellphone-operated remote control home --- In addition to being able to control the room temperature, blast the stereo and program the video recorder -- all while outside the home -- users can also check the current operating status of each device and view records of how each device has been used. According to NTT-Neomeit, this ability to monitor device usage provides a convenient way for users to keep tabs on the activity of their elderly parents from afar.

NTT-Neomeit plans to rent the home remote control system starting at around 500 yen ($4) per month, and service will initially be limited to NTT broadband subscribers in western Japan. Pilot testing will be conducted in the Kansai area from May to August.

[Source: Yomiuri, NTT-Neomeit press release]

NTT’s eye-tracking system monitors pupil size, blinking

15 Mar 2007

Eye-tracking system recognizes viewer interest --- The NTT Group has unveiled technology that analyzes the interest level of TV viewers and web surfers by monitoring their eye movement, pupil size and blinking.

Improving on conventional eye-tracking systems that provide an understanding of where viewers cast their gaze, this new computer-operated system features cameras that monitor and analyze unconscious physiological reactions to interesting viewing material -- namely, enlarged pupils and changes in the rate of blinking.

The technology, which became commercially available on March 14, was developed by NTT Learning Systems (NTTLS) and the Visual Interactive Sensitivity Research Institute (VIS), both of which are involved in visual content creation. NTTLS says the technology can be used in conjunction with driver safety training videos, and negotiations with a major automaker are now underway.

NTTLS claims the system appeals to a wide range of potential users, including those involved in TV commercial advertising and web content creation. Television audience ratings alone do not provide producers a clear picture of the level of interest in commercials, and web traffic stats do not show which parts of a web page visitors find interesting. With this system, however, producers can get a more accurate understanding of what the audience is looking at and how interesting they find it.

Judging from the large size (and presumably high cost) of the device that sits between the viewer and the monitor, though, the system is clearly designed for use in the laboratory. But it's just a matter of time before this is standard computer monitor/TV screen equipment and producers keep one eye on the real-time audience pupil data while they develop and deliver content.

[Source: Asahi]