Japan's innovation makes a difference

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Innovation is in progress in medical fields as well.

HoloeyesXR is a cloud-based service that revolutionizes medical communication, using patient CT scans and MRI data to create three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) applications.

With the primary initiative of a team led by Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka, winner of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, Japan is a frontrunner in iPS cell research. The introduction of cardiac muscle cell sheets created from iPS cells is dramatically changing clinical practice. The development of iPS cell-derived cardiac muscle sheet by Osaka University is one example. The team's success to create a cardiac muscle sheet that beats autonomously by cultivating iPSC-derived cardiac muscle cell was led by a previous success in promoting rejuvenation of cardiac cell by cultivation and transplant of thigh muscle cell. With high functionality and productivity, the newly-developed sheet is expected to be applied to drug discovery and transplant.

Mitsufuji Corporation manufactures and sells `Hamon', a wearable smart device that offers the world's only one-stop wearable solutions ranging from fibers to cloud services, under the company's mission to "Weaving health data into greater human understanding." By wearing the 'Hamon' device and transmitter, the user can acquire precise heart rate readings, physical fitness index, stress level, sleep tracking and fall detection. Such biometric data can then be accumulated and analyzed in the cloud, which allows on-site workers' physical conditions or employees' stress levels to be assessed. Residents at nursing care facilities and children at daycare can also be monitored in this way. This technology came from Japanese traditional Obi (sash) weaving. Rina Tokunaga of Mitsufuji Corporation says, "Here you can see grey color, this is silver 'metalized Yarn' which was used for making patterns in Kimono Obi. We were originally founded as Nishijin-ori manufacture 62 years ago. So using that weaving technology we used that yarn and we knitted into the garment. This part works as electrode and it collects a small current from your heart and you can see your vital data using your heart beat. Using this weaving technology from being an Obi manufacturer it's possible to and by being stretchable it's very comfortable and it sticks to your body correctly so we can get the very accurate data as well."

Cyberdyne's HAL®, or Hybrid Assistive Limb, is the world's first wearable cyborg-type robot capable of improving, assisting, expanding and regenerating physical functions. When we try to move our limbs, the brain generates signals that travel through a neural network to the muscles, accompanied by low-level "bioelectric signals" that leak to the body surface. HAL® detects these signals by using sensors pasted on the skin and allows limb movements according to our will. Further research is underway to expand the potential of HAL®, which has already been applied in a wide range of areas including medical, welfare and labor support. Yudai Katami from Corporate Department at Cyberdyne says, "As people get older, there is higher risk of injury or getting diseases and our device can help them overcome that, so it could prevent injuries, prevent diseases or overcome disabilities. It could do two things, so it could support the care givers and also support the care receivers. So when it is being used by our care givers, as they go lifting people in the facilities it could provide support on their backs so they don't injure their back and when it is used by elderly people they can do their core training. Training the body core with the device and as they go through that it could provide the improvement of the ability to stand up or it could help them walk faster."

DFree is the world's first wearable device that tracks bladder fullness real-time through ultrasonic technology. An ultrasonic sensor monitors the progression of bladder movement and reminds the user via their smartphone to visit the toilet. The state-of-the-art device will not only benefit the elderly and disabled people suffering from urination disorder or who are in need of assistance to go to the toilet, but also, to a broader range of people with excretory problems, including the middle-aged who experience urine leakage or frequent urination. The product, already on sale in the United States and France since 2018, is expected to launch in other markets around the world.

Furthermore, the electric wheelchair WHILL Model C is an intelligent personal mobility device with added convenience for outing. It is easy to disassemble for transport and storage, and it is equipped with a lightweight detachable battery. The wheelchair also offers multiple color choices and boasts up-to-date functions such as 3G network services.

Finally, let's look at Ugo- This robot housekeeper can be operated remotely from anywhere in the world via the Internet. For example, they do laundry, from washing to hanging to folding, as well as bring medicine to seniors. Rental for this robot starts in Japan from the summer of 2020, with monthly fees of approximately USD250. Ken Matsui, CEO of Mira Robotics, Inc., says "Japanese country is changing the social structure, we need to provide this robot in each house."

Japan's innovation will likely continue to draw attention as a set of precedent solutions to the aging society, which other advanced nations will also face in the near future.