By >Akihabara News Team
Lots going on at NEC’s C&C User Forum
Yesterday, I got to spend a nice chunk of the afternoon checking out the freshly developed wares of NEC. There was a huge variety on display, so I’ll give a run through of the highlights. The first impressive bit of news, and by far the best hands-on experience was of the cool new mini-tab, LifeTouch, which is outlined in detail here. Next up, was the e-car charging station, TQVC500M3, using the same interface as a traditional gas pump, and a touch screen component and FeliCa RFID reader. I live in Tokyo, so I don’t drive, but we may be looking at the future here people.
While talking about motor vehicles, the next stop on my tour of the exhibition room was the GPS navigation system developed in collaboration with Yamato (the ubiquitous Japanese parcel delivery service). In addition to helping delivery truck drivers find the fastest and safest routes, the system also tracks the location and destination of the trucks and cross checks them with parcels in an attempt to improve efficiency and reduce the number of kilometers traveled. It is developed exclusively for Yamato, but with some success, hopefully the benefits of such an efficient system will be shared by all road users.
Moving along, space exploration! NEC is involved in the development and testing of satellites. The asteroid explorer, Hayabusa, returned this past summer from a seven year mission to the asteroid Itokawa. The mission was to collect soil samples, and the trace amounts of dust collected are still being tested. A model of the bean-shaped Itokawa was on display and can be seen in the gallery. Back on planet Earth, there was still more to check out.
NEC, Microsoft, and Intel announced their collaboration on the development of an intelligent digital signage system, PanelDirector. The platform is based on Intel Core i5 or i7 and runs on Windows Embedded Standard 7. Developed for use in a variety of situations, including advertisement, in-store displays, and way-finding, the platform also supports touch interaction and will integrate NEC’s gender and age recognition technology. The Kaoato system, part of NEC’s NeoFace face recognition technology was on display on the exhibition floor. It was demonstrating the ability to recognize how many faces are facing a display as well as the level of attention they are paying to the digital display. This is based on the angle of the head, and the direction in which they eyes are looking. This technology combined with the gender and age recognition will provide valuable feedback to content developers and advertisers on the effectiveness of the displayed data.
Next I had a look at the research being done on agriculture. NEC is considering the modern farmer with their Field Server and wireless security sensor systems for growing veggies. Geared at farmers and even weekend agriculturalists, the systems monitor the temperature, soil pH, and moisture with sensors, and also can also monitor the grown of crops and pest detection remotely, through the use of surveillance cameras. The main goal is to increase efficiency; getting crops to market at just the right time, and producing higher quality crops with intensive monitoring. In the future, such a system could be part of a wider network, allowing farmers in different areas to communicate about conditions.
Lastly, I had a quick chat with PaPeRo, the communication robot. PaPeRo has been in development since 1997 and there have been many versions, including a Hello Kitty version. It is designed to be used in the home and gets along particularly well with children and the elderly. It uses face tracking and voice recognition, and touch sensors to interact with and help different members of the family. PaPeRo can take care of itself by self-charging and avoiding obstacles. It’s also rather cute and can dance and play games. There are no release dates yet, but it’s just a matter of time until the lifestyle of the Jetsons is a little bit closer.