Hand gestures work wonders!

June 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm (Assignments, Communication, Culture)

I knew from the start that there would be a language barrier when travelling to Japan.  I know just a few Japanese words and phrases and quite a few Japanese people don’t know English.  I found it kind of funny how just about everyone’s natural reaction upon learning that there is a language barrier is to use a lot of hand gestures as well as still tell you in their native tongue, even though they know you can’t understand what you are saying.  I’m positive that I do it too, probably in the hopes that they will recognize one of the words I’m saying.  One thing I did notice was that when I would use the little Japanese I know, the person usually would respond in English.  So when I tried to show off my mad Japanese skillz by saying “mizu kudosai” in a restaurant, I usually got a response of “water, yes” or something of the sort.  Or when I was trying to ask one of the security guys at the train station where I needed to go, I started by asking “Eigo desu ka?” (literally just asking “English?”, with the implication of does he know it) and he instantly replied “Ah! No English!” even though a simple “iie” would have sufficed.  My natural reaction if someone obviously foreign says something in English is to reply in English.  But maybe that has more to do with the prevalence of English in the world or the fact that I likely have no clue where they are from, whereas it’s pretty obvious to others that I’m an American.

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NTT Docomo is the shizzle

May 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm (Assignments, Communication, Technology)

NTT Docomo, the biggest provider of cell phones and cell phone service in Japan, is working on some pretty amazing technology.  We visited the research and development building and got to see their exhibition showcase.

The first thing they showed us was another example of AR technology, which we saw previously at DNP.  Next we saw a technology that uses fingerprint ID to connect the store inventory with your home inventory.  The example was buying a dress for your daughter’s birthday.  Connecting to the daughter’s closet, the computer was able to determine the best suggestions.  By moving a hangar onto a display, you could see a 3D image of the dress on your daughter.

They’ve been working on technology to improve the quality of sound and images transmitted wirelessly or on cell phones.  The goal is to reduce latency in games, increase the quality of HD displays, and get clearer sound.  One of the really cool technologies is the use of vibration to transmit sound.  People who are hard of hearing watch shows or make calls from their phones and hear perfectly just by holding a device to their forehead.  Another version involves headphones that register pulses so people can share music just by touching each other.

The goal of all this is to be connected completely at all times.  You’ll know whether you already have lettuce at home just by picking up lettuce at the store.  Looking for a certain item is a matter of logging onto the network to get the nearest store location.  It’s all pretty cool, yet somewhat disconcerting.  For years we’ve watched sci-fi movies and shows where the technology is used wrong or goes haywire.  I hope we never reach a point like that, but it’s still a scary thought.

Hearing through vibrating bones

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