New Gadgets, Prototypes to Debut Next Week in Japan

Japan's biggest electronics and gadgets show, Ceatec, runs all of next week and many new technologies and prototype gadgets are expected to be on show.

The first big news is expected on Monday afternoon when Toshiba unveils its first commercial LCD TV that includes the Cell multimedia processor, after showing a prototype of the television last year. Originally developed by Toshiba, IBM and Sony for use in the PlayStation 3 games console, the Cell is expected to bring functions like real-time upscaling and processing of recorded videos.

Panasonic will also focus on TV technology and showing a 50-inch plasma TV that can display images 3D. At the IFA electronics show in September the company said it planned to launch such a set next year, so Ceatec will provide more insight into what consumers can expect.

Sony is also pushing 3D and will use Ceatec to show a new video camera that can record 3D images through a single lens. The camera is aimed at content producers, not consumers, but the technology could eventually scale down into more compact cameras.

In the cell phone arena, NTT DoCoMo is planning to show a cell phone with a wooden rather than plastic case. The prototype phone was made in conjunction with Olympus, which has developed a method for wooden casing, and Sharp. The phone uses surplus cypress wood from trees culled during thinning operations to maintain healthy forests.

DoCoMo and its partners are also expected to show their progress in developing a cell-phone platform for future LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless services. The company is working with Panasonic, NEC and Fujitsu on development of a phone that can download data at up to 100M bps and upload at half that speed.

Meanwhile Fujitsu will show a new cell phone with a built-in golf-swing analyzer. The phone's sensors feed motion data to a 3D sensing program that analyzes the swing and then provides advice. Each swing can also be compared against past swings.

One of the hits from last year's Ceatec, Murata's unicycling robot, is due to make an appearance and show off a new trick. The latest version of the robot is capable of cycling

at about 3 times the speed of last year's model.

Nissan will also be at Ceatec showing off some of its latest research into advanced automotive IT systems. Specifically, the company plans to show off a technology that allows several cars to automatically follow a lead car. The futuristic system, which will be demonstrated in robot cars, could one day be used to allow cars to automatically move along roads in "trains" of vehicles with little input from the driver.

Ceatec runs at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, just outside of Tokyo, from Tuesday until Saturday. The exhibition, which is now in its tenth year, attracted just under 200,000 visitors last year.

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