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Smell and stress sensors a smash at Tokyo tech fair

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State-of-the-art sensors that can measure stress levels, mood, posture, performance and even smell took centre stage at Asia’s top high-tech fair in Tokyo.

The big-screen TVs and entertainment systems that were all the rage 10 years ago at the CEATEC fair have gradually been replaced by tiny sensors that accurately measure the minutest facet of the human body — a Japanese speciality.

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Electronics giant Panasonic showcased a prototype of an armchair that measures how much the user’s hands sweat along with the seating position and facial expressions via a camera, all to determine stress levels.

This could be useful for an airline pilot or long-distance truck driver for example but could also one day find its way into the workplace.

“You could imagine such a chair in the office and by combining the results with air conditioning and lighting levels, you could adjust the ambiance of the office to enable people to relax if necessary,” a Panasonic demonstrator said.

Components manufacturer Murata Manufacturing has pioneered a small device that is held for a minute between the thumb and forefinger to measure pulse rates and the nervous system.

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“We are going to start selling this very soon to companies, so they can measure how stressed their employees are. Transport and taxi companies are especially interested,” said Takashi Hayashida, a spokesman for the firm.

Staff equipped with sensors could be under permanent surveillance to “improve their posture and productivity,” according to Japanese electronics firm TDK.

This also extends to the field of play, with Fujitsu demonstrating a 3D analytical system based on sensors to improve the performance of gymnasts.

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– Stress smells like onions –

Sensors are also being put to work to improve healthcare — especially for the elderly, with nearly 28 percent of the Japanese population over 65.

Using a device created by hygiene firm Lion, patients worried about their teeth can flash a smile at a smartphone and send it to a specialised server that returns data on oral hygiene.

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Housing equipment firm Lixil has developed a sensor for the bathtub that measures water temperature and key vital signs like pulse and body temperature in an attempt to reduce sudden bath deaths, which afflict more than 5,000 people annually in the country, 90 percent of them over 65.

At the other end of the age scale, sensors are being deployed in a bid to ease labour shortages in kindergartens and creches.

Japan’s public New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization has developed a super-fine and sensitive film that can perform a host of functions related to childcare.

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For example, placed in a cot, it can upload data to a computer showing whether a baby rolls onto its stomach or its temperature spikes — alerting an adult if necessary.

“There is a staff shortage in creches. We need solutions to ease their task and enable them to watch over more children at a time,” said a demonstrator.

The same film can be used to determine how much and at what speed a meal is eaten — in a hospital or retirement home for example — by measuring the pressure applied on a table by a bowl or plate.

Of course, much effort is also devoted to matters that are less life and death, especially body odour, to which the Japanese are especially sensitive.

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Cosmetics giant Shiseido recently commissioned a study to demonstrate that the odour given off by a person under stress smells like… onions.

And the sensors are not just for humans. Sharp has developed a cat litter tray equipped with monitors to measure kitty’s urine volume and frequency.

© 2018 AFP


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Trump announces bigger US troop presence in Poland

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President Donald Trump on Monday announced an expanded military presence in Poland but said it did not reflect any increased threat from Russia.

Trump, meeting Poland's President Andrzej Duda on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, said Poland would pay for the increased presence, in keeping with his frequent complaint that NATO allies rely too much on US assistance.

"We'll be moving soldiers there," Trump said.

The Poles are "going to be building us facilities that I'm sure are going to be very beautiful," he said. "They'll be bearing the entire expense."

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Woman showing off gun to friends shoots sleeping 12-year-old girl in both legs

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A 12-year-old girl from San Antonio, Texas, is recovering after being shot when someone in her house brought out a gun to show off to friends, News 4 San Antonio reports.

According to police, the girl was hit in both legs while in her bedroom after someone took out a gun and showed it to others who were in the house. Another person who was in the home at the time apparently tried to hide the gun in the backyard before police arrived.

Cynthia Resendez, 34, was arrested and charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and her bond was set at $10,000.

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Watch judge’s priceless reaction when she learns DA jeopardized case against cop who killed black neighbor

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Dallas County District Court Judge Tammy Kemp went above and beyond the call of duty on Monday after the district attorney jeopardized the murder trial of a former police officer accused of killing her black neighbor.

At a hearing on Monday, defense attorneys for Amber Guyger argued that her web searches and cell phone records should not be brought into her murder trial for the death of Botham Jean. Guyger shot Jean to death on Sept. 6, 2018 after mistakenly entering his apartment instead of hers.

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