Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Earphones Vibrate to Wake Up Wearer

King Jim Co Ltd will release earphones that function as an "alarm clock" by using motors to generate vibration April 22, 2016.

The company expects that the earphones, "Mezamashi (alarm) EarphonThe mezamashi earphonese NMR10," will be used at the time of taking a nap in a train, office, etc. They are targeted at those who cannot notice alarms from a smartphone or do not want others to notice alarms. They can also be connected to a smartphone as normal earphones to listen to music.

The earphones are equipped with vibration motors and driver units in parts to be inserted into the earholes. They feature the "alarm function" to set off the alarm at a preset time and the "timer function" to activate the alarm after a preset period of time, and the motors vibrate the earphones. The strength of vibration can be set at three different levels.structure of the earphones

The Mezamashi Earphone NMR10 is wired earphones. Powered by an AAA alkaline battery, they can be used for about six months, according to King Jim. The price of the product is ¥6,000 (approx US$52.8, excluding tax). The company aims to sell 10,000 units in the first year.

New Impreza Sedan Automatically Applies Brakes When Backing

The new Impreza, which Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) Ltd showed off at New York International Auto Show 2016, comes with a system that automatically applies the brakes at the time of backing the car up.The New Impreza sedan

The system detects obstacles located behind the car with sensors embedded in the rear bumper. When there is a possibility that the car crashes into an obstacle, it sets off a voice alarm. If the driver does not avoid the crash by, for example, operating the brakes, the system automatically applies the brakes to avoid the crash or reduce the damage caused by the crash.

To improve visibility at night, the new Impreza has the "high-beam assist" function using a stereo camera. It automatically switches between high and low beams of the headlamps in accordance with the states of preceding and oncoming vehicles.

The vehicle also has the "steering wheel-interlocked headlamp" function. It moves the light axes of the headlamps in accordance with steering so that light is directed to the vehicle"s traveling direction at an intersection, curve, etc. As a result, the nighttime visibility was further improved.

Moreover, the new Impreza features the "Eyesight ver.3" safe driving support system and is capable of detecting blind spots. The Eyesight ver.3 offers functions such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) supporting automatic braking and all vehicle speeds as well as lane departure prevention.Interior of the new impreza

The new Impreza is equipped with the "FB20 Type" naturally-aspirated (NA) horizontally opposed direct-injection engine with a displacement of 2.0L. The engine was developed by replacing about 80% of the components of FHI"s previous NA engine with the same displacement and reducing the weight. The maximum output of the FB20 Type is 113kW, which is 3kW higher than that of the previous engine.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sensor Equipped Computer Mouse Checks Mental Stress Level at Workplace

Alps Electric Co Ltd showed a sensor equipped computer mouse that enables to check mental stress level at workplace.

The mouse, which is equipped with a vital sensor and an environmental sensor, was demonstrated at Medtec Japan 2016, which took place from April 20 to 22, 2016, at Tokyo Big Sight.

 sensor equipped computer mouse

Specifically, the sensor equipped computer mouse comes with (1) a "wearable near-infrared spectroscopic sensor" that can measure "hemoglobin level," which indicates the degree of anemia, etc, in addition to the degree of oxygen saturation and pulse and (2) an environmental sensor that can measure temperature, humidity, etc.

The mental stress level of the user can be measured just by using the sensor equipped computer mouse in normal ways, Alps Electric said.

The wearable near-infrared spectroscopic sensor was unveiled at Medtec Japan 2015, which took place from April 22 to 24, 2015, at Tokyo Big Sight. It measures the amount of hemoglobin combined with oxygen (oxyhemoglobin) and the amount of hemoglobin not combined with oxygen (deoxyhemoglobin) by using LED lights with two different wavelengths in the near-infrared region.

Based on the amounts, the degree of oxygen saturation and pulse are calculated. It is also possible to measure the time variation of the amounts of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin (hemoglobin level).

This time, the new sensor realizes a high measurement accuracy regardless of capillary distribution and measurement point. Alps Electric plans to complete the development of the sensor in fiscal 2016 and start to ship samples by the spring of 2017.

Vibrating Cushion Prevents Driver From Dozing

Thanko Inc released the "Vibrating Cushion for Eye-catch Precrash Alarm" to be combined with an external doze warning device sold by the company April 12, 2016.

The new product contributes to preventing the driver from falling into a doze with a warning sound from the doze warning device and the vibration of the vibrating cushion, the company said. Its price is ¥12,800 (approx US$118, including tax).

Display of the vibrating cushion system

The vibrating cushion can be combined with the "GPS Model of Eye-catch Precrash Alarm" doze warning device (¥69,800 including tax).

With face recognition and pupil detection functions that use infrared light, the device can judge whether the driver is dozing or not based on the state of the eyelids (open or closed) as well as whether the driver is looking aside and gives a warning. It detects the speed of the vehicle by using a GPS, and, depending on the setting, it does not give a warning at low speeds.

Also, the device can be used in conjunction with an automatic vehicle locator (AVL) for use in commercial vehicles such as taxis, trucks and buses.

The warning of the device is Japanese, but it is an imported product. Judging from a picture of the product, it seems to be a product of Hao Nai Industrial Co Ltd. Thanko has been selling various models of the doze warning device since 2013 and increasing the number of models on sale by, for example, releasing a model powered from a cigarette lighter port in February 2016.

Friday, July 20, 2018

New "Boon," "Passo" Compacts Feature High Fuel Efficiency

The new "Boon" and "Passo" compact cars are the gasoline engine vehicles (two-wheel-drive vehicles excluding light cars) that have the highest fuel efficiency under the JC08 test mode.The New Boon with improved Fuel Efficiency

The new Boon and Passo were released by Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd and Toyota Motor Corp, respectively, April 12, 2016. The fuel efficiency of 28.0km/L (approx 65.9mpg in the US) was realized by using fuel-saving technologies that Daihatsu developed for light cars. It is 1.5% higher than the fuel efficiency of the previous models.

This time, the compression ratio of the engine was increased from 11.5 to 12.5, significantly contributing to the improvement of fuel efficiency. It was realized by employing the "Dual Injector" and improving the "EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) System," which improves fuel efficiency by recirculating exhaust gas.

The engine of the new vehicles is the "1KR-FE" 1.0L in-line three-cylinder engine, which is the same as the engine of the previous models. But the Dual Injector, which is used for the engine of Daihatsu"s "Mira e:S" light car, was employed. It injects fuel into the combustion chamber by using two injectors per cylinder.The New Passo with improved Fuel Efficiency

The number of injection ports of the previous models" engine is six per injector, but the number was increased to eight for the new models. As a result, the particle size of injected fuel was reduced. The shape of the suction port was changed so that strong tumble flows (longitudinal vortexes of air-fuel mixture in cylinders) can be generated.

Also, the Atkinson cycle was employed, and friction loss was reduced by changing the piston shape. Furthermore, the responsiveness of the EGR valve was improved to increase the amount of reused exhaust gas. The maximum output and maximum torque of the new engine are 51kW and 92N·m, respectively, which are the same as those of the previous models" engine despite the improvement in fuel efficiency.

Electric Flavoring Fork Adds Taste to Salt-free Meal

A prototype of the "electric flavoring fork," which generates a salty taste by stimulating the tongue with electricity, was announced in Japan.

The electric flavoring fork was developed based on the "electric flavoring" technology being researched by Hiromi Nakamura at Rekimoto Lab, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, the University of Tokyo. It is an application of an "electric test for taste" used to judge whether a taste cell of a tongue is dead or alive. And it exploits the fact that a tongue feels salty or sour when electricity is applied to it.

The electric  flavoring fork is targeted mainly at those who need low-salt or salt-free diet such as hypertensive patients. This time, the prototype was prepared for "No Salt Restaurant," a project to offer a salt-free full-course meal.

The handle of the fork incorporates a rechargeable battery and electric circuit. When the user inserts the head of the fork into the mouth with food while pressing a button on the handle, a certain level of electric current is applied to the tongue. The degree of saltiness differs depending on eating habits, age, etc. This time, three current levels were available. The prototype costed ¥2,000 (approx US$17.7) in addition to the cost of a fork.

The electric flavoring fork generates not only a salty taste but sour and metallic tastes. This time, with help from cooking experts, it was found that spices such as pepper and garlic make it easier to feel salty.

Pic showing the Electric Flavoring Fork

Electric Flavoring Fork in use


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hitachi, Honda Prototype Compact Alcohol Detector

Hitachi Ltd and Honda R&D Co Ltd announced March 24, 2016, that they have prototyped a compact alcohol detector to be used with a smart key.

When the alcohol detector finds that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, it makes it impossible to start up the engine. The two companies consider that the detector will contribute to preventing accidents caused by drunk driving.

alcohol detector displayed

The prototyped alcohol detector is equipped with a sensor that detects saturated vapor included in human breath (saturated vapor sensor). The sensor has a structure in which an insulating ceramic is sandwiched between electrodes. When the driver blows on the detector, water vapor in the breath is adsorbed by the insulating ceramic, changing the current flowing between the electrodes. By using this phenomenon, the sensor can judge whether it is a human breath or not within a few seconds.

Hitachi and Honda R&D improved the sensitivity of the sensor by employing a fine comb-shaped electrode with a length of about 5mm and shortening inter-electrode gap to 20-30μm. Though the new sensor does not require a mouthpiece on which the driver blows, its sensitivity is 10 times higher than that of conventional alcohol sensors using a mouthpiece. Also, the size of the new sensor is 1/50 that of sensors for conventional automotive alcohol detectors.

To judge whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol or not, Hitachi and Honda R&D employed three semiconductor gas sensors that measure the densities of ethanol, acetaldehyde and hydrogen, respectively. By including acetaldehyde and hydrogen, which are contained in the breath of a drunken person as metabolites, the measurement accuracy for ethanol was improved.

In Japan, when the amount of ethanol in 1L of breath exceeds 0.15mg, it is considered as being under the influence of alcohol. The prototyped alcohol detector can measure even an ethanol density that is 1/10 of the threshold within three seconds. Also, compared with the case where only ethanol is measured, the measurement accuracy was improved by about 200%, the companies said.

Furthermore, the new alcohol detector functions in conjunction with an automotive smart key. When the detector is placed on, for example, the center console of a car, it shows measurement results on an automotive screen and reads them out. If the detector finds that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, the engine won"t start.