By >RENO J. TIBKE
Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
This week Square mobile payment comes to Japan, super-green Kitakyushu & UNIDO join forces to make clean cities, Japanese research groups are Joining the European Human Brain Project, and some really unfortunate and sad news in the world of humanoid robotics.
Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday:
It’s already Friday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News every Friday morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.
:: JTFF – May 24, 2013 ::
• Square Mobile Payment System Comes to Japan
Sure, Japan’s had wireless mobile payment systems for lots of years, but that’s a different animal; this is meeting at a Starbucks and swiping my card on your iPad to pay for… whatever. Square is partnering with Sumitomo Mitsui, who brought the Visa card to Japan, but hey – let’s be honest, they still haven’t brought it that far. The land of the fax machine has ATMs that close. Seriously, there are ATMs that turn off and on, not for maintenance, but in line with bank hours! It boggles. And it’s been reported that 80% of small businesses in Japan still don’t even accept credit cards (or debit cards – that species still hasn’t arrived here). We’ll see how this goes.
[SQUARE'S GOING INTERNATIONAL, AND JAPAN'S FIRST - SF GATE]
• Once Horrendously Industrialized Now Super-Eco Kitakyushu Partners with UNIDO for Green Cities
Kitakyushu, Japan, or Kokura, was the original target for the nuclear weapon known as Fat Man - the one that was instead diverted to Nagasaki. It was the industrial hub of the southern island of Kyushu, so one can easily see how that would have been the case. As the city developed, it really became a poster child for filthy, polluted, nearly unlivable urban industrialization. They managed to turn that all around, and now Kitakyushu is considered a global model of green, environmentally responsible industrialization. The city’s getting more props now, and is partnering with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to push an initiative aiming toward zero-emissions industrialized cities.
[JAPAN EXTENDS PARTNERSHIP WITH UNIDO - KUWA]
• Japanese Brain Research Organizations Partnering with the European Human Brain Project
Interesting piece of news, this. One would have expected preeminent Japanese brain researchers to get all mobbed up with the American Human Brain Map project. Instead, they’re reaching a bit further across the globe and getting cozy with the European project. One can’t really blame them – no one’s sure exactly what, how, or exactly why the American project is… existing. So, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and RIKEN brain research teams are going Euro.
[JAPAN BRAIN RESEARCH ORGS PARTNER WITH EUROPE - MEDICAL EXPRESS]
• Kanako Miura, World-Class Roboticist, Killed in Boston, MA, U.S.A.
While it’s several days old, the news bears mentioning. Terribly tragic end for brilliant mind and, by all reports, a lovely and fantastic person. Ms. Miura, a guest researcher MIT working on human-like bipedal mobility for robots, was struck while riding her bike last weekend. We’ll have a full report, in English and Japanese, next Wednesday.
[JAPANESE ROBOTICIST KANAKO MIURA DIES WHILE BICYCLING - MIT NEWS]
That was the JTFF, and live from the future – that is all.
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Reno J. Tibke is the founder and operator of Anthrobotic.com, where the JTFF was born.
Tokyo at Night image via PhotoEverywhere.