Toshiba Doubles Layoffs to Over 14000 Positions

The past few years haven’t been good for Japanese conglomerates and the it appears things are getting even worse at Toshiba. After a massive accounting scandal popped up last year, the Japanese firm ended up losing a massive $4.5 billion USD for the 2015 fiscal year. That led to planned cuts of 7,800 positions worldwide as an effort to cut costs. Things appear to have gotten worse though as Toshiba is now reported to cut over 14,000 positions in this round of layoffs.

At 14,000, this is double the initial estimates for cuts. 7,610 positions or around half are to come from the consumer electronics and PC business segments. Another 4,590 jobs were trimmed from the semiconductor business as well. Finally, 3,449 workers were offered early retirement packages. In total, this is about 7% of Toshiba global workforce of 198,741 people worldwide.

With the PC division set to be sold off eventually, the cuts there probably won’t mean much. The much bigger concern comes from the semiconductor business. Toshiba and partner SanDisk are one of the few NAND manufacturers, along with IMFT, SK Hynix and Samsung. Both companies have faced serve financial trouble and SanDisk recently sold itself to Western Digital. If WD is unable to revive SanDisk and Toshiba continues its downwards trend, we may lose a NAND producer, something no consumer wants.

Electronics Supplies Affected by Japanese Earthquake

Earlier this week Southern Japan was wracked by a number of powerful earthquakes which has affected the supply chains for a number of major electronics firms including Sony, Mitsubishi Electric and chip-maker Renesas which had factories in the area.

The Kumamoto prefecture on the isle of Kyushu was first struck on Thursday evening local time by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, which triggered a number of aftershocks. Early on Saturday morning, the region was hit again by a more powerful quake measuring a magnitude of 7.3 and triggering warnings of a potential tsunami. It was reported by NHK Television that at least 4 people had been confirmed dead as a result of the Saturday quake, compounding with the 9 deaths and over 1000 injured by the quakes on Thursday.

As a result of the quakes, Sony put a halt to work at its Kumamoto factory, which produces the digital image sensors used in many devices including Apple’s iPhone. It is currently unclear how long the factory will be out of action or if it will be long enough to affect the availability of products that rely on the sensors. Renesas Electronics and Mitsubishi Electric also possess manufacturing plants in the region which have currently been suspended with the former making chips for the automotive industry and the latter power devices. Addition Mitsubishi Electric facilities in the nearby area have also ground to a halt, including an LCD parts facility and semiconductor plant.

The worst of the earthquakes have now passed for the region, as the Japan Meteorological Agency reported that Saturday’s quake was the main quake and Thursday’s was just a precursor. We can only hope that this natural disaster-torn part of Japan and its people will start to recover soon and the region can begin working to return to normal.

Tourists Will Be Able to Use Fingerprints as Currency in Japan

It’s not always a good idea to carry a lot of cash on you when you’re going on trips, which is why credit cards are usually much more appealing. However, Japan is looking to take things to a whole new level thanks to an innovative system that uses fingerprints as currency. In order to implement this project successfully, though, tourists will have to register their fingerprints and credit card information at airports or at other public locations. Those who will choose to give up these details will be able to buy products from certain stores by placing two fingers on small fingerprint-reading devices.

The system will enter a testing phase soon, which will involve about 300 souvenir shops, hotels and restaurants located in popular areas such as the Kamakura coastal town or the hot springs resort named Hakone. Japan’s officials are hoping that the system will be implemented in various large cities across the country such as Tokyo by 2020, which definitely sounds doable. Obviously, the government will benefit from this new system as well, as it will be able to improve its tourism management policies by analyzing the spending habits of foreign tourists. Apparently, these habits will be analyzed via anonymous data by a government-led consultative body. The main issue with this fingerprint-based system is that it involves giving up very personal data, and I can definitely understand why some tourists would be reluctant to provide this information.

Japan Is Trying to Regain Control of Its X-Ray Satellite

Everyone knows by know that Japan’s Astro-H “Hitomi” satellite is in big trouble, as the JAXA space agency has officially lost contact with it on Saturday. The team is still trying to figure out what happened to this incredibly expensive piece of tech, and early reports from the US Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center seem to indicate that some of its parts might have actually broken off. A little while ago, scientists have received intermittent signals from this satellite, which suggests that it is not completely dead. Unfortunately, an amateur video shot by an astronomer named Paul Maley shows the $360 million X-ray telescope-equipped craft as it floats uncontrollably through space. Things are not looking good for Japan right now, that’s for sure.

Since the video footage shows the satellite flickering as it passes through the field of view, it’s likely that we’re dealing with a craft that is spinning and reflecting light off of its solar panels in the process. Maley has spoken to National Geographic about the footage and explained that these variations in brightness indicate that the craft “is not controlled and that some event caused it to begin its rotation.” You can have a look at the video in question below.

Netflix Reveals First Clips Of It’s Voltron Series

Who remembers videos? These days we use DVD, Blu-Ray and even just watch it straight to your phone or computer through a streaming service. With so many choices for delivery it, the content itself has to be pretty amazing. Well if new shows are your thing you may want to avoid this, the first clip of Netflix’s remake of Voltron.

Originally a series in 1984, Voltron sees several astronauts that pilot giant robots that can then combine, ring a bell anybody? The series was popular and spawned everything from comics, a one-hour tv special and even a video game in 2009, 25 years after its initial release.

As part of its attempt to add more “original” content to the service, Netflix has partnered up with Dreamworks to create and share Voltron: Legendary Defender. Set to release the first 13 episodes on June 10th and features a cast that’s filled with experience including Steven Yeun (Walking Dead), Rhys Darby (Yes Man), Kimberly Brooks (Bioshock Infinite) and Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow) to name but a few.

You can check out the trailer below which contains everything you could want from a Voltron show. Robots, check. Roars, check. Combination sequence, check. Explosions CHECK!!

With Netflix adding more content based on classics shows and the power rangers to receive a reboot, which other shows do you want to see brought back from when you were young?

Robots Used To Help At Fukushima’s Nuclear Plant Are Burning Out

Five years ago an earthquake triggered a 10-meter high Tsunami that crashed into Japan. One of the buildings affected by this wall of water was Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, ultimately resulting in a meltdown that left the area irradiated and costs people their homes and, unfortunately, many lives. In a big to help speed up the clean up process, companies have been looking at using robots to help clean up and clear the areas still too dangerous for humans. Sadly though it would seem that the radiation involved is too strong for even the robots as they seem to keep burning out.

Tepco is the company responsible for decomposing the wasteland that is Fukushima power plant, the company is not having an easy time though with nuclear rods still unaccounted for. After melting through their containment vessels, the numerous fuel rods could be anywhere within the plant and the robots being developed to search for them are having a hard time.

Naohiro Masuda, Tepco’s head of decommissioning, stated that “it takes two years to develop a single-functional robot”. Given that in order to search each building they require a new robot for just that environment, being able to protect their wires from the radiation is causing delays and difficulty in their searches.

Amazon.JP Delivering Japanese Video Games Worldwide!

We all like that new game smell. Opening up the post to find that new game, the case screaming for you to open it up and slide in the disk. Sometimes the game you want to play isn’t available in your country, a case that is most common with Japanese releases. Don’t worry, as Amazon.JP has started delivering Japanese video games worldwide.

With select games and even consoles now available for international shipping, you can enjoy some of those releases that you’ve missed out over the years. Currently, the offer only applies to items sold directly by Amazon.jp with international shipping.

In order to do this, you may want to view Amazon.jp in English, an option that you can find on the right-hand side of a product page (shown below).

With fair prices for games like Dark Souls 3 costing just ¥ 6,473 (around £41 without shipping), you could soon find yourself building up an international collection of games. Some consoles these days don’t care about the region of the game, for example, the PS4 and Xbox One while others you may have to reorder to enjoy the Japanese releases (the Wii U and 3DS among them).

Are you looking forward to ordering your first game from Japan? What games are you going to pick up? Tell us your experience in international games and delivery services in the comments below.

Nintendo Land to Open in 2020

You either love them or you hate them. No, I am not talking about Marmite sandwiches, but rather theme park rides. From the ones where you walk through and experience jumps and scares to the rides where your legs dangle as it throws you through twists and turns. However, even if you don’t like theme parks, but you do enjoy Nintendo, you may want to start planning a trip to Nintendo Land in 2020.

Universal Studios was granted the rights to use some of Nintendo’s many rights for theme parks a while ago, but aside from these hints, there was not much else to go by except rumours. It has now been confirmed that “Nintendo Land” will be “on par with the likes of Universal’s Harry Potter-themed zone but focus entirely on everyone’s favorite Italian plumber”. That is correct, you could soon see Mario, Peach, Luigi and Yoshi on a series of rides and experiences that will please adults and children alike. The location of this attraction is going to be a little bit of distance for some people, opening in Mario’s backyard of Tokyo. With its initial opening timeline set for 2020, you will get to experience the Olympics and Mario all in one fell swoop. If this seems like a gimmick then you might be wrong given that Universal have put up ¥40 billion (roughly £247 million pounds) to the venture.

VAIO Wants Merger With Toshiba and Fujitec PC Divisions

After being spun off from Sony two years ago, it looks like VAIO is planning to expand its PC operations. Despite the doom and gloom in the PC market, VAIO is reportedly planning a merger with the PC divisions of Toshiba and Fujitec, two other major Japanese PC OEMs. In fact, Japan Industrial Partners Inc, the owners of VAIO, are expected to hold the largest stake in the new firm and expects the consolidation will streamline the operation. The new company would rival NEC Lenovo in the Japanese market with a third of marketshare.

For Toshiba and Fujitec, this presents a good opportunity for them to get out of a market which has not much for them in the last while. Toshiba, in particular, is already trying to get rid of their less profitable divisions already and focus on NAND. By merging, the new as yet to be named firm has a will be able to leverage it’s now stronger domestic presence and make a bid for the international market as a whole, something VAIO has been trying to do.

In the current race to the bottom, there are only a few major players left like ASUS, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Acer have any significant presence and some of them aren’t doing quite well right now. Windows 10 has largely failed to help spur new growth and there seems to be little relief in sight. If the continued survival of a Japanese PC maker means a merger, it will happen sooner or later.

Amazon Japan Offers Free Wine Advice with Sommelier

Amazon sells all manner of products, from books to furniture and even food and alcohol can be delivered directly to your door. When you don’t know what to choose, many online stores offer staff on-hand to chat with and determine the best products for your needs and prices. Now Amazon Japan is taking this on board for those who don’t know their whites from their rose with its new Sommelier service.

The service is available between 12 and 5 pm local time, users can supply their phone number and will be called up by one of the professional wine advisors who are on-hand. They can let you know anything from the tastes and quality of wines to more wine-amateur requests such as suggestions for what to serve with particular meals within your budget or what would make a good gift for an occasion. The sommelier offers wines from around the world too, such as a Japanese Continental Koshu Heart or KWV Classic Collection Pinotage to be served with yakitori.

For those who can’t remember the vast array of foreign names often thrown around when discussing wine, Sommelier even provides users with emailed summaries of their discussions to ensure they can remember the advice when they may come to order.

Whether the service will ever move beyond Japan is questionable, with no mention from Amazon. Japan is a good proving ground for it, though, having one of the largest wine catalogues out of all the international Amazon sites. I think many of us would welcome the help when it comes to trying to buy a wine for an occasion and avoid the shame of a bad pick.

Nissan’s Main Websites Knocked Offline by Anonymous

Anonymous have struck once again, the target this time: car manufacturer Nissan. Two of Nissan’s main websites were affected by the attack, with their global and Japanese sites being suspended after a barrage of traffic was received by both sites. While both of those sites remain offline, both the US and European sites remain online.

The basis for this attack is part of another of Anonymous’ operations, OpKillingBay, addressing Japan’s advocacy of whaling and the killing of hundreds of whales every year by the country. This operation has been indiscriminate in its attack on Japanese corporations on Twitter, with the #OpKillingBay being full of tweets telling people not to buy Japanese products such as cars and citing their attacks as punishment for their crimes. Nissan has stated that they have no view on Japanese whaling activities.

The attack on Nissan’s sites is not the first cyberattack made to protest whaling. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s website was taken down last month with an Anonymous-affiliated hacktivist claiming responsibility for the attack. The targets are not limited to Japan either, as in November a number of government websites in Iceland, including the prime minister’s and those of a number of ministries were hit.

A member of Anonymous claiming responsibility for the attack on Nissan stated that they were attacking large corporations in Japan as it is the best way to raise awareness for the issue, with the widespread censorship of it amongst Japanese domestic news outlets. They did mention that they wished no harm to Nissan’s customer or system data.

Whaling may be a major issue, with the harm that it does to the environment and the fact that the Japanese persistence on the matter being in contradiction with international law, but whether the correct way to protest it is cyberattacks is another matter. Anonymous is hardly a group to do things by half-measures though, so we could expect to see attacks on other Japanese departments or corporations in the near future until Japan addresses the issue.

Could We See A More Powerful Nuclear Bomb?

Happy New Year everyone, let’s talk about Nuclear Bombs. The threat of Nuclear annihilation has been in the public consciousness for quite a while, as the tech behind such weapons becomes more advanced, so is the possibility of a more powerful arms race. This is one of the concerns after Japanese scientist’s synthesized element 113.

What is element 113 I hear you ask? This is the atomic number for Ununtrium and is an extremely radioactive synthetic element that can only be created in a laboratory. It also contains elements of plutonium with the added feature of being able to emit more radiation. So far scientists have found the element to be not stable enough for it to be implemented into anything such as nuclear bombs.

Japan have pushed ahead and aspires to be a world leader in nuclear research, this ambition could be in part be down to the 1945 attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which killed an estimated 129,000 people. This attack has been the only use of nuclear weapons to date. Scientific research is essential and I hope the proper safeguards are put in place to protect against any notion that one day these elements can be used for weapons with the aim of world carnage.

Tokyo Police to Launch Anti-Drone Drone Squad

Many countries are beginning to come up with their own answer to drones being used dangerously or criminally. Now Japan has moved to restrict the usage of personal drones too, following an episode where a drone carrying a small amount of radioactive materials managed to land on the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office in April. And while most nations have settled on simply placing legal restrictions on drones or requiring registration, Japan plans to do this and more, with the Tokyo Police Department planning to roll out a squad of anti-drone drones.

This week Japan amended its aviation act to include limitations on drones, with Paul Haswell, a partner at legal firm Pinsent Masons, telling the BBC, “In Japan, it is illegal to pilot drones over certain areas such as airports and power plants, over roads, or above a height of 150m.” Not only this, but some public places such as city parks also have restrictions in place that outlaw drone use in them, which is sure to annoy drone enthusiasts living in Japan’s crowded cities.

Police in Tokyo have demonstrated that their plan against nuisance drones in the city will be the deployment of their own drone craft, equipped with nets to catch the troublemaking drone. The strategy put in place will involve informing the operator via loudspeaker of their infraction, which if ignored will prompt the use of the police drones. And the Japanese police take drone incidents seriously since the April incident, believing that terrorist attacks using explosive carrying drones are a real threat and defending national functions is their top priority.

It is certainly interesting to see authorities taking to the sky with their own drones to deter potential menaces, but is it the best way? Only time will tell for the citizens of Tokyo.

Robots Could Take Half of Japanese Jobs by 2035

Gundam, Asimo, Velociraptor receptionists; Japan has been at the forefront of robotics since the inception of the concept, and new research suggests that Japanese permissive attitude toward automatons could see robots taking almost half of Japanese jobs within twenty years. A report by the Nomura Research Institute (NRI) [PDF – Japanese] in Japan revealed that, of the 601 jobs it looked at in collaboration with Oxford University, 49% of the positions could be taken by robot workers by 2035.

“Due to a shrinking population, labor shortages are predicted for Japan. We’re looking at the social repercussions of attempting to preserve the labor force by introducing AI and robots into it,” the report reads.

“We did the same kind of analysis in Japan that Professor Michael Osborne from Oxford University carried out in the UK and the US,” Yumi Wakao, a researcher at NRI, told Vice Motherboard. “We found that up to 49 percent of jobs could be replaced by computer systems.”

“However, this is only a hypothetical technical calculation,” Wakao added. “It doesn’t take into account social factors.”

The report shows that Japanese workers are at greater risk of losing their job to a robot, with the US not far behind (47%), while one-third of UK workers could be usurped by mechanical systems.

AI Program Beats Average Entrance Exam Scores in Japan College Exam

Artificial Intelligence has been progressing at an impressive rate due to technological advancements in cybernetics. The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies suggests AI is a form of biological replication and further understanding of the human brain can help create a more advanced reproduction. In the next decade or so, it’s perfectly feasible the robotics industry could create service droids to perform rudimentary tasks. According to a study in Japan, AI is already surpassing the capabilities of the average human being.

Japan’s National Institute of Informatics programmed the AI to complete a standardized college entrance exam. The system correctly answered 511 questions out of a possible 950. In comparison to this, the national average score is 416, which means the AI system has an 80% chance of being admitted into the country’s 33 national universities and 441 private colleges.

The test revolves around five core subjects including History, Maths, and Physics. As you might expect, the AI scored highly in Maths questions and retained information extremely well to achieve excellent History results. On the other hand, the AI system struggled to cope with the Physics questioning due to processing language’s limitations. Overall, the test scores illustrate how far Artificial Intelligence has come, and robotics is a field which could revolutionize society.

Image courtesy of TweakTown.

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is Coming to PC!

The dramatic rise of PC gaming has led to various niche console focused genres including horizontal shooters, and JRPGS coming to the platform. The latest entry is by Japanese developer, Nippon Ichi, creator of unusual titles such as The Guided Fate Paradox and A Witch’s Tale. Nippon Ichi is finally entering the PC market, and releasing Disgaea: Hour of Darkness on Steam. This is a surprising move, and a treat for simulation RPG aficionados. Here is a brief overview of the game’s plot in the developer’s own words:

“Two years after the death of his father, Overlord Krichevskoy, the demon prince Laharl awakens to discover that the Netherworld is in turmoil. With unlikely allies, his devious vassal Etna and the angel trainee Flonne, he must battle his way to supremacy to retake the throne and become the next Overlord. Experience the SRPG classic, now on PC!”

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness contains 40 unique character types, lavish animations, Geo Panels, the ability to throw allies onto ledges and more! Furthermore, the unique storyline set in the Netherworld, reverses the roles of good and evil commonly seen in modern entertainment. Each character has a maximum level of 9999 and utilizes Transmigration to add longevity and make your character stronger during a second play through.

Rightfully, there are some concerns regarding the PC versions as Japanese developers have struggled to create polished versions in the past. However, Nippon Ichi is promising an updated user-interface, refined textures, keyboard and mouse/controller support as well as Steam Achievements, Cloud Saves, Badges and Trading Cards. Even better, the PC edition includes all the content from Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness.

As a huge fan of Japanese games and culture, I’ve traditionally been forced to purchase a console to play quirky games. As time progresses, it seems Japanese publishers are more open to mobile and PC development, which means PC gamers can enjoy a whole host of unusual hidden gems. While exclusives are still part of the gaming industry, they are slowly becoming less common.

Sony To Cease Betamax Sales After 40 Years

Betamax was pioneered by Sony in the 1970s and utilized a magnetic tape to offer mainstream recording functionality. Initially, Sony tried to dominate the market and make Betamax the industry standard. However, JVC had other ideas and decided to make their own tape recorder called VHS. By 1980, the VHS format accounted for 60% of the North American market and signified the demise of Betamax.

Despite this, Sony’s failed format continued to sell reasonably well in Japan and can still be procured today. Although, Sony announced that Betamax sales will officially end in March 2016. It might surprise people in the west that old formats like Betamax are popular in Japan. Although, ancient electronics and retro games are often seen in various second-hand stores, and the “junk” section can contain broken Betamax players.

It’s important to remember how long the PlayStation 2 was in production throughout Japan. 40 years is a healthy lifespan given the format’s utter failure. I’m personally sad to see any piece of technology being retired, but it’s very niche in 2015. Modern media revolves around streaming which means dedicated players could become obsolete soon. Of course, 4K Blu-Rays could help prolong the lifespan of optical media, but its fate is sealed.

Are you still using VHS tapes? Perhaps, you’re a fan of the mighty LaserDisc format!

Image source

Scientists Create Glass That’s Almost as Strong as Steel

Glass, by its very nature, is known to be quite easy to break. Of course, this much can be changed by altering the thickness of it, as we’ve seen with everything from bullet-proof glass to bridges being made from it. Now, a team of scientists in Japan are saying they’ve created a new type of glass which is almost as strong as steel, and it could usher in a new generation of super-strong glass panels that lead to big innovations in windows for buildings and vehicles, screens for electronic devices and so much more.

“We are looking to commercialize the technique within five years,” University of Tokyo assistant professor Atsunobu Masuno told Asahi Shimbun.

The new tough glass is made using alumina, an oxide of aluminium. This technique has been tried before, but any contact between the materials and their container caused crystals to form and ruined the compound. The team used gas to push the components into the air, allowing them to mix without the need for a container, thus creating the new transparant glass that is made from 50% alumina. The new glass rivals steel and iron in terms of rigidity.
Little else is known for now but expect to hear a lot more about this innovative glass in the coming years.

Square Enix May Crowdfund Localization Projects

Ever since crowdfunding has come onto the scene, many indie devs and sometimes even major ones have used the power of the crowd to fund their game development. Square Enix is now taking this approach and applying it to the localization of Japanese games. This will address the many popular Japanese titles that western fans have long wanted a local version of but have never had the chance to get it.

While there are many vocal fans that always clamour for a localization, it can be hard for the developer and publisher to determine how many potential customers there really are. Even when fans say they want the game are willing to buy it, many of them might actually not purchase the localization title. Given the costs of translating and hiring voice acting talent, the risks have generally outweighed the potential return on investment.

With crowdfunding, the community is able to prove that they want a localization done by actually paying for it. Depending on how the rewards and crowdfunding are done, the developer is able get a guaranteed return on their investment and fans can get the game they want in their own language. It will be interesting to see if other developers take on this idea and if alternatives like a guaranteed buy-in get explored.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

Japanese Man Accidentally Burns Down House During Live Stream

These days there are streams of all kinds, showing off different games and all kinds of other things. Sometimes though, expected things happen during the stream, with swatting having become more common recently. However, it’s not every day that someone burns their house down live for the internet, something a Japanese game streamer accidentally did.

Streaming on Nico Nico Douga, a popular Japanese streaming site, the man stopped gaming for a while to show off his smoking skills. Unfortunately for him, his various mistakes with his match lighter ended up creating a fire around the tool. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he threw his lit match into a wastebasket which subsequently ignited spectacularly. By the time he had dealt with the match lighter, the trash bag had been consumed with flames.

Tossing the burning inferno into a corner, he attempts to put out the fire by piling on cardboard, a pretty bad idea given cardboard is a great fire starter. As the fire grew, his escalating attempts to combat the blaze with a futon and buckets of water proved too little too late. In the end, 30% of his home had burned down and both he and 3 relatives including his parents suffered minor injuries.

Even the help of his viewers did not avail him. Nico Nico allows viewers to send a voice message when they donate to the stream. Unfortunately for the streamer, he didn’t react to the warnings from his viewers about the growing blaze in the trash bag till it was too late, did not heed the advice to smother the flames with a futon (he only fanned it), failed to properly remove the trash bag to a better location in the first place.

This incident goes to show that lighting an open flame in a room full of combustibles is a bad idea. That is especially true if you have no proper plan to put out any flames or proper safety equipment like a fire extinguisher. Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder about the dangers of fire, especially if you’re unprepared to deal with it. Luckily no one was seriously injured this time around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_orOT3Prwg&feature=iv&src_vid=82UsZ44AxIA&annotation_id=annotation_1840551877

Japan Display Conveys Prototype 8K Screen Within a 17-inch LCD

Recent years have seen a substantial improvement of resolution within screens at a price point which has dropped significantly, from average consumer availability of 1080p Televisions to the new breed of 4K sets which are pushed to market at a decent price compared to previous developments. But as we all know, 4k is not good enough, we want even higher res, well some of us, for me, computer games and films benefit from the increased detail level, but I am sceptical when the time comes to implement a higher detail level for day-to-day TV.

Another disadvantage is in the form of a gigantic screen which is needed for 4K or even 8k viewing, well, maybe not considering a company by the name of “Japan Display” have announced plans for a 17.3 inch 8K screen. According to the prototype specs, this innovation runs at a smooth yet fast response rate of 120Hz with resolution stats of 7,680(W) x RGB x 4,320(H) pixels. The display itself is a familiar Liquid Crystal Display (LCS) module and is “based on low temperature poly silicon (LTPS) technology with true 8K pixels (RGB stripe arrangement), thus realizing high-definition (510ppi) images”

The compact yet powerful nature of the screen holds potential uses which include implementations within the medical environment and also fun aspects that include game and video image production. Below is a display image of the likely vision of the product and also full details of the prototype specs.

Display Mode LTPS TFT, transmissive IPS mode
Screen size (diagonal) 17.3-inch (43.9cm)
Resolution format 7,680(W) x RGB x 4,320(H)
Pixel density 510ppi
Luminance 500cd/m2
Contrast ratio 2000:1
Viewing angle >176degree(CR>100:1)
Frame rate 120Hz

The display will be exhibited at the “NHK/JEITA booth on October 7 – 10, 2015 during CEATEC JAPAN 2015 held at Makuhari Messe, Japan, in collaboration with NHK”.

One can only wait for further details of this exciting innovation in display technology, although, god only knows as to the price point which JDI have in mind, hopefully it will be reasonable, wait!, who am I kidding, you would probably need to sell a kidney for one of those. Sounds funny now, but remember those reports which circulated in 2012 which stated that a Chinese student sold an organ for an iPad, so no one do that.

Thank you j-display for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of sunetfon       

World of Tanks Japanese Advert is Quite Ballsy

Video game advertisements can be cringeworthy, emotionally-charging and in the case of World of Tanks, downright bizarre. To be fair, it’s better than many gaming adverts in the UK and uniqueness is always a good quality. Up to this point, the video has amassed over 3 million views and continues to do rather well. Japan’s culture might seem strange to some westerners, but it’s a beautiful country. I’m not entirely convinced this type of marketing would do well with World of Tank’s western core demographic though.

The rating system and comments have been disabled and that’s probably for the best. I can only imagine the type of discussions on the video trailer. I wonder how many players in Japan will feel compelled to try the game after the advert and how provocative it is to Japanese gamers.

This unique trailer revolves around a Japanese lady painting. The final piece shownis certainly suggestive, but don’t worry, it’s just about safe for work, but you may get some strange looks if seen watching it… enjoy!

We would love to hear your thoughts on this advert and gaming adverts in general. What is the worst and best gaming trailer you’ve ever seen?

Want to see more crazy gaming adverts? Check out our Classic Gaming Commercials Were Awesome! feature.

Universal Studios Japan Recreates Resident Evil’s Raccoon City

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka has recreated Resident Evil’s Raccoon City as a zombie-shooting simulator, implementing a laser-powered shooting system used in police combat training.

Biohazard The Real (Biohazard being the Japanese moniker for Resident Evil) takes visitors on a tour of Raccoon City – taking heavy visual influence from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – during a zombie outbreak. Guests are then ushered into the Raccoon City police station and armed with a gun – a 700g model with 30 virtual bullets, as indicated by an illuminated wrist strap – and told to take down as many zombies as they can – plus Resident Evil creatures the Licker and Tyrant –  working their way through a hospital to reach the Umbrella Research Center for the final confrontation. Tours are divided into two stages, leading teams of up to eight people around the attraction, and take approximately 10 minutes.

Instead of being treated to a cutscene upon completion, players are lead into the giftshop:

If the cries of “Brains!” has made your stomach rumble, you can even stop off at the local restaurant:

Rumours that tour guests are forced to pivot before walking and can’t shoot while moving are as yet unconfirmed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGCEx9bIKQw

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information.

America Vs Japan Robot Fight: Operation Crowd Funding!

Let’s take a minute to remember back to the days of sitting in front of the TV watching insane robots mutilate each other in an arena full of deadly traps. Now fast forward to 2015 and our love for robots has grown, which has resulted in movies such as Real Steel and mechs introduced into games such as Call of duty. So what about real life? Well nothing interesting really, apart from a massive grudge match being ignited online thanks to American and Japan building mechs for whatever reason.

Sources have gone quiet lately, but it has surfaced that America has started a crowd-funding campaign to raise $500,000 to help finish and upgrade the robot. But why would you want to donate your hard earned cash to help build something that will probably get smashed like a bug? “Because we’re going to make history, and it will be the most patriotic dollars that they can spend in 2015,” Brinkley Warren, a co-founder, told Ars with pride.

At the time of writing, the campaign has reached over $261,000 with 28 days to go. All is not lost, however, the founders has given a long term goal plan in case funds reached up to $1.5 million; which will end up ranging from high-performance track bases for ultimate speed and eevn a Hollywood paint job. Funnily enough, a life safety system only comes in at $1.25 million, which means moving fast is more important than safety #Murica!

Now a Kickstarter campaign wouldn’t be worth entering if there wasn’t something for the donator. The basic $5 gets you a mutual online handshake, but the best donation of $10,000 allows you to join the pit crew at the fight and be hands on. Personally if I had the spare cash, I would donate $5,000 and punch a Prius.

Who do you think will win? America with brute force or Japan with engineering marvels? Are you going to donate? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information

Japan Fires the World’s Most Powerful Laser

Japanese scientists have developed and fired the world’s most powerful laser, capable of producing a whopping 2-petawatt (2 quadrillion watt) pulse, thanks to an integrated device called the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiment (LFEX). Though the beam can only be sustained for a trillionth of a second, it has the concentrated energy equivalent of 1,000x the world’s electricity consumption; I’ve definitely used that excuse myself before.

The LFEX laser projector, based at Osaka University, Japan, is around 100 metres long and constructed from a series of glass ‘lamps’, designed to amplify the beam as it travels the length of the device. The process allows the laser to concentrate the power of the laser while only using about 200 joules of energy, about equal to using a microwave oven for 2 seconds.

Junji Kawanaka, an electrical engineer at Osaka University and member of the LFEX team, is already looking to the future, saying, “With heated competition in the world to improve the performance of lasers, our goal now is to increase our output to 10 petawatts.”

Sadly, though, the laser will not see the advent of cool space battles. “If one wanted to destroy a satellite, the Japanese LFEX laser would not be the answer, as it would not propagate far through the atmosphere – even if it could be pointed towards the satellite,” Michael Donovan, Associate Director of Texas Petawatt Laser program, told Defence One. “The higher you get, the thinner the atmosphere. So a laser launched in space could propagate, but a petawatt laser is too large to economically launch into space.”

I wish I’d realised that before I invested in this shoal of sharks.

Thank you Science Alert for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of NBC.

Love Pixel Art? Check out These Stunning 8-bit GIFs of Japan

Japan has evolved to a somewhat juxtaposition within today’s fast moving tech world but has still kept its identity and influences from the past. It’s difficult to quantify how life moves within a new direction considering we as humans live through and are not aware of the imperceptible per day changes. Tumblr creative individual 1041uuu has turned everyday life of Japan into 8 bit GIFs, which are both stunning and also simply yet colorfully distil a perspective of this country.

Below is the wonderful GIFs which really do capture the imagination, they also add that old tech vs new surroundings feel to each piece.

The build up of colour for this image below is fantastic and it demonstrates the evolution of Japan’s skyline which is dominated by skyscrapers.

This GIF below has very few animated elements, all you really see move is the rain drops, by doing this you feel that you are not rushed and can therefore sit back and admire the artwork.

I would say the next three GIFs would be my favourites of the ones I have selected for this article, the reason for this is that all three perfectly encapsulate how the digital revolution has changed not only Japan but also large swathes of the world.  The train feels as if it’s from a different era while the passengers are all without exception focused on their Smartphones.

Old style tech on the right of this GIF which is a bulky TV with built-in video player with what looks to be a PC tower from years gone by, this is blended with a new laptop on the table with, well a unique, yes lets call it that, fish tank on the left.

This last GIF again demonstrates how things have evolved within a short space of time, from the fluorescent green of an arcade machine to the latest MP3 player which is currently being used.  This could also be a perfect observation of many people’s life’s over the years who have bought each new piece of tech.

These GIFs are colourful, creative and have hit the nail on the head in a subtle yet powerful way, by all means take a gander at 1041uuu Tumblr page for more GIFs, link is below, it’s certainly worth it.

Thank you 1041uuu for providing us with this information.

Japan Is Building An Anime Bullet Train

The UK is world-renowned for their public transport arriving 20 minutes late and charging consumers a small fortune to travel by train or bus. It’s also certainly painful to the eyes to view a 1990s rusty train spluttering down the track, but are other countries any better?

Let’s take a gander and compare a British train with that of a newly planned decorated Shinkansen bullet train. The first image is that of a standard UK train, yep pretty boring, the next image below is that of the concept design bullet train. As you can see, it’s fantastic and would be ideal to travel to work on a cold and wet Monday morning.

So why has the train operator by the name of JR West, not related to fisherman John, become slightly crazy with their design team? Well, this is in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the hit anime by the name of Neon Genesis Evangelion. In addition to this amazing design for the 500 Type Eva model, the train will also have an Evangelion-themed interior and heaps of special memorabilia for fans to buy.

It’s a pity that Japanese consumers are the only ones to be able to appreciate this stunning design, perhaps we need a little less First Capital Connect and a bit more from JR West.

Thank you to engadget, westjr and wikimedia for providing us with this information