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Asia's biggest tech fair kicks off

Oct 04 2011 10:58 AFP

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Chiba - Smartphones detecting bad breath and radiation, twistable remote controls and a super-thin tablet computer were just some of the gadgets showcased at Asia's biggest tech fair in Japan on Tuesday.

Around 600 firms unveiled their innovations at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (Ceatec) technology exhibition in Chiba, near Tokyo, which is expected to draw 200 000 visitors during its five-day run, organisers said.

Japan's Toshiba showcased what it calls "the world's thinnest and lightest" tablet computer, equipped with a 10.1-inch display that is just 7.7 millimetres (0.3-inch) thick and weighs 558 grams (19.5 ounces).

Electronics parts maker Murata Manufacturing unveiled devices using a newly-developed transparent organic film that can deliver instructions via twisting motions or pressure.

One of the devices, a conceptual light-powered plate named Leaf Grip Remote Controller, has no buttons and instead operates by the user bending and twisting it.

Another application of the film is as a touch panel. The "touch pressure pad" responds to finger swipes in the left-right and up-down directions and can also sense how strongly it is pressed, unlike the conventional touchscreen glass used on smartphones.

"Currently we give commands two-dimensionally on touch panels in smartphones and tablet computers but this invention would give us another dimension - how hard they are pressed," Murata spokesperson Kazuhisa Mashita said.

"This could enable users to scroll screens slowly by touching the screen lightly and move images faster by pressing it harder," he said ahead of the exhibition.

Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo will showcase a smartphone with changeable "jackets" that measure bad breath, body fat and even radiation levels.

DoCoMo has developed a technology that allows users to measure their own body readings or their surroundings by slipping their smartphones inside sensor-embedded shells.

Worries over contamination levels as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have seen demand for radiation-measuring devices soar in Japan, with tens of thousands still evacuated from areas nearby the atomic power plant.

Scares over contaminated food have also increased consumer scrutiny of products and their origin.

State-of-the-art radiation counters were also on display at the fair along with power-saving technologies, after parts of the country saw drives to cut peak summer power consumption.

The Fukushima crisis, triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, has led to around 80 percent of Japan's reactors being taken off-line amid growing anti-nuclear sentiment in the archipelago nation.

Japanese microchip maker Rohm showcased what it called the world's tiniest resistors, which are so small that 500 000 of them can be used in an hourglass instead of sand.

The firm displayed its efforts to diversify into the healthcare business, with "Technojewel" accessories such as earrings that can take the wearer's pulse.

Among other high-profile Japanese companies, Hitachi will show off technology that enables the projection of holographic 3D images, instead of relying on special displays.

The life-like images can be viewed from all angles without the need to wear special glasses.

Sony's displays include binoculars capable of high-quality digital recording in 2D and 3D, aimed at animal watchers, storm chasers and sports fans.

Sharp showed off an LCD television set that boasts a screen resolution four times higher than the current high-definition panels.

technology  |  smartphones  |  tablet
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