At last week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Victor-JVC exhibited a prototype of their next-generation super-thin LCD TV.
Just 7 mm (.28 inch) thick and weighing 5 kg (11 lbs), the display is the company's thinnest and lightest LCD TV to date.
Besides the advances in size and weight, the company has been emphasizing the eco-friendliness of the new technology. According to a press release, LCDs of this type use about 50% less materials and 10% fewer module parts than comparable JVC displays, and employ no mercury in production thanks to the use of LED as the light source. The company also claims that the displays maintain the optical intensity and low-heat radiation performance of prior models.
If you're a member of one of those households in which everybody wants the room to be a different temperature, I've got some good news. National (Panasonic) has just introduced the X Series (a.k.a "Air Robo") line of heater/air conditioners equipped with groundbreaking technology meant to individually optimize the indoor comfort of each person in a room. Apparently, thanks to infrared beams that can both identify where people are and what they're doing, and special flaps that can directionally release air of varying volumes and temperatures, those who are less active will feel a warmer air flow than those who are moving around. What's more, because the units aim air at people rather than trying to maintain the same temperature throughout the room, they use less electricity. The X Series goes on sale in November (2007).
If you're into traditional Japanese imagery you might want to explore this award-winning website that Panasonic created to promote its Viera line of flat-panel televisions. Dubbed "experience color," it skillfully employs graphics, live action, color and lighting to create a sophisticated mood and give a sense of the high quality pictures you can expect from Viera.
Here's one of those ground-breaking Japanese products that is well worth celebrating.
Sanyo's Eneloop is a nickel metal hydride rechargeable battery that has the potential to really change how we think of power cells.
It's revolutionary for a number of reasons:
- Unlike other rechargeables, Eneloop batteries come fully juiced right out of the package so they're just as convenient as throw-aways.
- Each battery has a lifetime of about 1,000 charges. Now that's performance!
- The self-discharge rate is very low so the batteries keep 85% of their charge after 1-year of non-use and 75% after 2 years.
- Eneloop is comparatively more powerful and longer-lasting than dry cell batteries and performs better in low-temperature situations.
- It's designed for easy recycling.
Moreover, the product is beautifully designed and has won several awards.
Eneloop was launched in Japan in the autumn of 2005 and is available in many overseas markets as well.
Although this revolutionary product from Sharp has been available for two years in Japan, it's worth taking a look at because it's still not well known or widely used in many countries. The Healsio* (ヘルシオ) is a device that looks like a microwave oven, but is actually more akin to a convection cooker—except that it uses super-heated (300 C) steam to cook, instead of air. That in itself is cool enough, but what really makes it neat it is that it still allows you to grill, bake, defrost and re-heat despite its use of steam. Moreover, the ultra-heated water vapor melts away fats and reduces salts in foods while maintaining vitamins that are lost through other cooking methods. Shown above is one of the latest Healsio consumer models that goes for about ¥98,000 in Japan. The previous model made news at the end of October after being chosen as one of the "Japanesque Modern 100" by a special Japanese government committee charged with identifying the top 100 products that best represent the fusion of modern and traditional Japanese design values.
The Healsio is available in the US for about $1,400. This relatively high price, combined with the fact that it cooks more slowly than a microwave, means that it will be some time before this kind of technology can displace one of the world's most ubiquitous kitchen appliances. However, as concerns about healthy eating continue to grow, more and more consumers will be looking for new ways to prepare food. Perhaps a future incarnation of the Healsio that's faster and cheaper will be just the thing a lot of us have been waiting for.
* The official spelling of the Japanese brand name used by Sharp is "Healsio," but this rendering confuses native English speakers who don't understand that the name is clearly derived from the words "healthy" and "oven"— thus, a better name might have been "Healthy-O."
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On June 8, the Japanesque Modern Committee announced the launch of the "Japanesque Modern 100" Awards to certify the 100 products and creative content that best represent the Japanesque Modern concept. Selected items will be authorized to display the j-mark
The "Japanesque Modern 100" is the first volley in a national branding campaign from the Japanesque Modern Committee, which was set up with government backing to heighten Japan's brand image in the face of intensifying global competition. Leading corporations including Matsushita Electric and Toyota as well as universities and designers are involved.
For an example of how the Japanesque Modern campaign is affecting advertising, (and if you have the bandwidth to handle it) visit the worldwide site for the flat-panel Viera TV from Matsushita (Panasonic).