CHIBA • A ping pong playing robot, a flying origami bird and a mirror that some might find a little too honest were on display at a huge tech show in Japan yesterday.
The gadgets were all part of this year's Cutting-edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition, Asia's largest electronics fair outside of Tokyo.
Prominent among the pack was a robot arm made by automation parts maker Omron that can play - and coach - humans at ping pong. "Immediately after the player hits the ball, the location of the robot's return ball is displayed on the table-tennis board, helping the player's next return," said spokesman Masayuki Atsumi .
The robot uses a camera and an array of sensors to detect the ball's movement and is able to play a near flawless rally. The same technology can be used in vehicles to avoid collisions, said the company, which is known for its healthcare products.
High above attendees, the sound of flapping wings could be heard. Rohm, a major maker of semiconductor devices and other electronic parts, had created a 30cm-long origami crane bird. Weighing just 31g, it can fly thanks to an ultra-light motor. The same company had also invented a luggage sensor which can reveal whether suitcases get bashed around by airport handlers - and reveal a suitcase's location.
Electronics giant Panasonic displayed its vision of a high-tech home, complete with a variety of gadgets and appliances that communicate with one another.
That includes a mirror which, when hooked up to the rest of the gadgets in the home, can display your body mass index - a measure of body fat based on height and weight. It can also gauge how healthy your skin is, as well as overlay virtual cosmetics on your face to help guide a make-up routine.
The same home also boasted a dining room table and window which can react to conversations - displaying, for example, images of a recent trip a family had taken once they start talking about it.
About 530 companies are taking part in the trade show. Around one quarter are foreign exhibitors from 19 countries and regions, led by China, Taiwan and the United States.