“Innovation” does not just mean world-changing technology, it can also be that which inspires creativity and encourages people to think outside of the box. These three INNO-vation Program Disruptive Challenge graduates show us that if you utilize and nurture the seeds of creativity, you can create something truly unexpected.
|2021/12/22||Hiroshi Egusa was selected for the World’s Top 2% Scientists by Stanford University! (Japanese)|
|2021/10/22||Marina Fujiwara was selected for Forbes JAPAN's 30 Under 30!|
|2021/10/19||Yosuke Furusawa received the Startups & University Category Semi Grand Prix Award!|
As Japan's population continues to age, the demand for regenerative medicine to restore lost or damaged bones continues to climb. Effective bone regeneration technology is also expected to be sought after for medical care on pets, such as cats and dogs, and racehorses with broken bones. I have been involved with development of regenerative medical technology used to treat the jaw bone reduction that occurs after losing teeth. I have established a technology to obtain artificial bone materials by freeze-drying artificial bones (bone organoids) made from iPS cells. This product not only exhibits higher bone regeneration and absorbency not found in existing bone materials, but due to the fact that it uses dead iPS cells, it's also expected to have realistic clinical applications due to its safety and low cost. Within this project, for the purpose of developing the technology for clinical uses and animal medical care, I will be working to strengthen the effectiveness of this product and verify and inspect its results.
With AI technology becoming more prominent in recent years, large companies such as those involved in IT have been proactively working with AI technology designed to support those with disabilities. Due to Japan’s shortage of human resources brought about by the country’s low birth rate and aging population, AI technology that helps those with disabilities to play a larger role in society is becoming increasingly vital. Although the use of AI technology is increasing, those with visual impairments are almost entirely unable to partake in the development process. Even if new programs are developed from a software 2.0 point of view, the analytical methods to interpret data remain largely the same, leaving those with visual impairments out in the dark, a situation often referred to as informationally impaired. That being said, as mentioned in the Japanese government’s AI strategy, AI technology is meant to “promote a sustainable society that embraces diversity”, and that very diversity is something that should be carefully considered during the development process. In recent years, there’s a tendency when using data-driven recursive technology such as Deep Learning that the created AI tech will exhibit a strong bias. Therefore, a diverse group of people should be involved in the development process. In order to realize such a society that promotes sustainability and embraces diversity, this challenge was focused on improving the accessibility of AI development for the visually impaired, as well as establishing a data science environment and creating the associated primer content (written below). Data Science Environment Improvement for the Visually Impaired Project Data Science Primer For Those Using Screen Readers
A coat hanger-like device that breathes movement into clothing is currently being developed and implemented for use in society. This technology, with its formality, endearing charm, and quick movements can be used to bring out the hidden life that clothes already hold inside to create a new type of social robot or retail store display. Whether it’s commercial or private use, this product allows users to utilize their own creativity and uncover unique worldviews in their own everyday lives all while widening the bond between people and clothing.
An award-winning food and crop protection company developing and commercializing transformative technologies to combat global food waste, both naturally and safely. This technology has been shown to keep fruit fresh up to 14 days longer, helping shape a safer, more sustainable future in the food supply chain. StixFresh stickers utilize a safe, all-natural, patent-pending formulation. The compounds making up this formulation work together in the vapor phase to create a protective layer around the fruit, slowing down over-ripening and spoilage during storage. Conveniently, StixFresh stickers can be applied anywhere along the supply chain. Since the formulation is on the non-adhesive side, distributors and producers are able to feature their branding or barcodes on the stickers.
Similar to how plants undergo synthesis, the solar-powered plant generates electricity in its leaves, stores it in the roots and it glows at night when it blooms. Attached to the leaves are solar panels which efficiently generate power through light. This works even indoors and can use both natural light through a window or even artificial light. An illuminance sensor is attached to a leaf, when the room darkens at night, the flower blooms and lights up. When morning comes and the sun shines in, the flower closes and the lights go out. In other words, it functions as a nightlight. At the same time, as a plant-shaped robot, it is being developed so that people can enjoy a new form of communication that has never existed before. For example, like taking care of a real plant, humans can give the device a "shower of light" to give extra electricity. Even if there is little sunlight on rainy days, the flower can still be made to bloom. In the future, the goal is to make the device more compact and foldable to deliver a bouquet of light to those areas without electricity.
In order to help those who have lost their voices due to laryngeal and pharyngeal cancer, we have developed and subsequently improved in the INNO-vation Program a hands-free wearable device called Syrinx that lets its user become able to speak again using only lip movement. There were three main points within the Disruptive Challenge. The first was having users actually try out the device and listen to their feedback. We asked a child who had lost his voice due to Chronic Lung Disease to try out the Syrinx to reply at his graduation ceremony. In order to let him use it comfortably, we selected the material for the buckle and strap that fits around the neck, and we modified the circuitry to be more user-friendly. He was very happy about it and is still using it to this day. The second point was the positioning of the oscillator and the effect it had on responses. The best area of the neck to place the device to produce a loud voice differs by person. We tried using existing body analysis applications and pressure gauges to see if there was some sort of law governing these principles, but we were unable to uncover anything. The third point was to reduce the amount of leftover vibration sound caused by the oscillators. Tests were performed by covering the device with rubber and gel, though they didn't go as well as hoped. A lot of mistakes were made, but we're making the most of it now in the current R&D phase!
■The Voice Shower Created an installation that allows users to bathe in "voices". A speaker is built into a showerhead, where the user can shower in "voices" like they would a real shower. He examines how people feel and what effects they get from 'bathing in' or 'seeing' voices instead of 'hearing them', as one would typically do. Through this work, he proposes new ways of using the "voice" and its possibilities. ■ Experimental Proof University brain wave experiments and expert opinion suggested that voice showers that have the voices of people we hold close relationships with can have healing effects and may even be useful for previously unsolvable medical treatments.
By introducing a pressurized fluid to a container filled with a particulate substance, the substance can be liquefied. This phenomenon is called a “fluidized bed" and has been used in many industrial fields for things such as incinerators, but has not been used in interface applications that humans directly get involved with. For example, by using sand as the powder/granular material and air as the fluid, and then projecting an image on the surface of the sand, you can create something that can walk on or swim through the sand at the flip of a switch. We study how to use various combinations of particulate and liquid substances to develop new, never-before-experienced interfaces that allow free control of solid and liquid phases.
Continuing to make quantum computers more accessible and user-friendly.
Yuichiro Minato had his work cut out for him. Quantum computers were still a relatively new technology when he began his research, but he notes that the lack of familiarity didn't slow him down.
Working to a Quantum world from scratch
Yuichiro Minato, chosen for the 2015 INNO-vation Program’s Disruptive Challenge, took on an effort to seize the exceedingly rapid computing power of quantum computers.
How freeze-drying iPS cells could prove to be the solution to tooth-regenerative therapy
Dr. Hiroshi Egusa's challenge for the 2019 INNO-vation Program's Disruptive Challenge involved regenerative bone therapy while preventing the occurrence of tumors caused by iPS cells. He notes the importance of creating a diverse environment to continue working on what you love.