A Night at the Swiss Embassy in Tokyo

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Tonight I attended a function about “ARK NOVA” which is a project by Mr. Michael Haefiger the Director of the famous Lucerne Festival.

I often wonder how or why I am invited to such events because I feel a little out of place when the others are members of parliament and presidents or board members of huge companies. After all professors are pretty low down on the socio-economic ladder.

As usual I did not have time to check my email (and no assistants or secretaries either) so I didn’t know the time had been changed to 1830 instead of 1800. I was early but actually it was a good chance to talk one on one with Michael Haefiger and the Swiss Ambassador. Mr. Haefiger was one of the first WEF Young Global Leaders.

The Ambassador asked me quite a few questions about what is media design. I tried to explain as well as I could. I find the easiest way to explain these days is to refer to Apple and iPad and give these as examples of merging design and technology.

Next I talked to a politician who I first met a couple of years ago at a Davos meeting. I asked him questions about what are the most important issues LDP should solve if they got into power and he said there were too many. I asked what he thinks about the declining population in Japan and he said it is a very tough question.

We had the presentation by Mr Haefiger next and he showed a video and explained about the ARK NOVA project. The idea is to build an inflatable concert hall which can be set up and moved around Tohoku region. The design is quite spectacular and red.

Next we went to dinner. I was surprised there was only 10 people. I was expecting some stand up function with a lot of people but it was going to be a small sit down dinner.

At the dinner at first the Ambassador asked us to discuss with Mr Haefiger about his project which we did so. I had the feeling that some of the audience felt a concert hall isn’t going to be so helpful at this stage for Tohoku region. They have a point but I could also see the point of Mr Haefiger that art is an intangible value and can have some benefits for the local people.

The most illuminating and exciting part of the function for me was to have a long discussion with the President of Hitachi Americas and a Board Member of Mitsubishi Corporation. I really appreciate their views because they are the ones who really move and shape the economy in Tohoku and all of Japan for that matter. Mitsubishi literally poured millions of dollars into the Tohoku reconstruction and even sent their employees to clean up debris on company time. Hitachi has its roots in Tohoku region and deliberately started up factories to hire local people.

I then had a very long an exciting talk with the President of Hitachi Americas. We talked about how Japan will survive in the post China world. He said quality and new products. Japan must sell it’s quality, including products and services. He gave a good example. When he dry cleans his shirt in Japan it is so well cleaned and folded. He can’t find such service anywhere in the world and at such a cheap price. I also said how a simple thing like going to Macdonalds can be such a great experience in Japan. In USA the birthplace of Macdonalds it can be a rude and bad experience. How do we sell such Japan service around the world. He said to me it is my job to find an answer. Yes, I realized that is what media design should be about. How to sell services and experiences. But he said to me China will soon become sophisticated and also make quality products, he said just look at the porcelain and ceramics in Japan. They came from China. I asked what will Japan do then, and he said find different and new quality products to make.

I asked what advice he had for the young people at Keio and in Japan. He said that as quickly as possible they should learn to understand other people and other people’s views. He said the key skill to learn is reciprocity.

Another interesting meeting was with the Executive Advisor of ANA who is also running the new LCC Peach Airlines. I found out the deal for this new airline was made over a dinner at Davos with a Hong Kong investor. That is really a power dinner.

I left the dinner very enlightened. We can learn so much from these titans of industry. Now on my mind is how media can be used to sell high quality Japanese service around the world.

Test_Lab: Smell This! Witness the decomposition of Chanel No. 5, sniff out a partner, taste with your nostrils, and more treats for the nose.

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Test_Lab: Smell This! Witness the decomposition of Chanel No. 5, sniff out a partner, taste with your nostrils, and more treats for the nose.

particles at YCAM

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Daito Manabe + Motoi Ishibashi

One of our KMD students, Kensuke Fujishiro, worked on this project. It is a beautiful work which I think is a wonderful analogy of the importance of physicality and being analog even in our modern computer world. It combines the light inside a physical ball with a track and all connected and controlled wirelessly by a computer. Somehow the physicality and analog nature is so much more beautiful than seeing a particle cloud on a computer screen.

Electric stimulus to face

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Another wonderful and weird work from Japanese media artist Daito Manabe. By using electrodes one can moves one’s face and control another person’s face. I really like the use of haptics for affective communication. This is a comment on how we can often wish we can influence other people’s mood and therefore bodies directly.


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vThis work was done by one of our Keio Media Design students when he was on an internship. It is a very cool example of food media. It is done for Glico a sweets maker in Japan. The system captures the face and then prints it in chocolate on a cookie. It is a great example of edible interface and food communication.

Stream 2012 Ignite

Stream 2012 Ignite: Adrian Cheok, Mixed Reality Lab

What’s an Ignite talk? Five minutes on stage to talk about an idea, an interest or a passion. You get 20 slides that rotate automatically after 15 seconds. It’s fun, it’s fast, and the format forces you to really think about what you want to say.

Adrian Cheok speaks at WPP’s Stream “Unconference” in Phuket, Thailand

Stream Asia 2012 Report

Here is a general summary of Stream from the home page of Stream Asia:

We are pleased to announce that our second Stream Asia event will take place 8 – 11 March, 2012, in Phuket, Thailand.

Hosted by Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, and Yossi Vardi, internet investor and founder of Kinnernet, Stream Asia will bring together around 300 top creatives, entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders who come together to learn from, and contribute to, the freshest thinking on the future of technology and communications.Click here to see the current attendee list.

The format of the event follows the ‘un-conference’ model with limited keynote speeches and PowerPoint presentations; instead participants are invited to take part in discussions on the latest industry topics in communications and technology. Click here to see a list of previous discussions.

Attendance is by invitation only. For more information on Stream Asia please email The Stream Team.

I flew from Narita airport on Thursday, and arrived a little bit late in the night time. But luckily I was in time for the Gadgethon. As I am more used to technical conferences, I thought that this would be a session of people showing their own demos. However it was mainly showing the latest and coolest gadgets that people have found. A kind of “hot topics”. The coolest think I thought was not anything digital at all, it was purely analog. It was a very cool, geeky, and kind of secret agent type jacket where it has hidden pockets for putting all your gadgets in, even iPad (http://www.scottevest.com/). The cool thing is when you are travelling, it is basically like having another carry on bag which you wear. I am sure the FAA will count these as baggage if many people start wearing them, but for now it is a very cool air travel hack. Thanks to Gary Shainberg (@garyshainberg) for showing this.

The next day was the start of the discussions. There were about 8 discussions sessions at any one time, so it was difficult to know what to attend, as almost all of them looked very interesting. One of my favorite sessions was about social media and revolution 2.0 which was chaired by Thomas Crampton (@thomascrampton).

However the greatest highlight was in having impromptu and serendipitous discussions with the amazing people attending the event, and also some of my favorite people who were also attending. One of my serindipitous moments was that I happened to bring a book along with me to read on the plane which was a gift to me from Gino Yu (@phusikoi) more than 5 years ago, which I never had time to read before. I was reading the book on the plane and thinking of Gino. Gino coincidentally happened to be one of the first persons I bumped into at Stream. After many years we had a long and deep discussion together.

Another highlight was happening to sit together with all the Ogilvy & Mather people at the dinner. It was one of those lucky chances that serendipitously happen in life. If I knew the table was all Ogilvy & Mather people I might have chosen to sit somewhere else, in case I was interrupting or bothering some company discussion. As it was, I sat together, and we had amazing discussions and I realized they were very interested in smell and taste media themselves!

In the night time there was the Ignite sessions. I gave a presentation on next generation of experience communication on the internet and some of my work on touch, taste, and smell media. It was kind of thrilling to give the presentation because the slides automatically flipped over every 15 seconds. It was a great experience, and it really helps to sharpen ones mind and presentation style. I really enjoyed to listen to the other Ignite presentations. One that I remember the most was about things to do after turning 40, because this was very relevant to me having just turned 40 🙂

Another serendipitous moment came very late in the night at about 3am. I was in the lobby area doing late night computing, and started chatting to ) and Judith Clegg (@judithclegg). Olivia was from Singapore, but I felt she was quite a radical and rebel person, which I really liked. I found she was really interested in Poultry Internet also. We talked about some internet business ideas, and even meditation.

Judith is Founder & CEO of innovation agency Takeout. Founder and The Glasshouse network  a  100 million dollar early stage investment fund. She had so many wise thoughts and insights and I discussed with her some internet business ideas. The next day I was able to have lunch with her and talk get a lot of great advice from her. That is the great thing about Stream, being able to learn from many wise and talented people such as Judith.

The next day was also full of great discussions followed by a final dinner and party. I had to catch a bus at 7am on Sunday morning to the airport, but I realized I was still chatting to people, as well as dancing Michael Jackson together (there was an Xbox set up with the Michael Jackson dancing game). I only had time to shower, pack, and get on the bus before catching my flight. Thank you to ) Director of WPP Stream and all the organizers of Stream for a fantastic and amazing event.

ARE 2012 1st Keynote Speaker Announced: Adrian David Cheok Inventor of “Krazy” Augmented Reality!

ARE 2012 1st Keynote Speaker Announced: Adrian David Cheok Inventor of “Krazy” Augmented Reality!
Posted on Mar 09 in ARE2012 by Ori


The line up of luminary speakers to keynote at ARE 2012, the world’s largest augmented reality event, will blow your mind.

The first revealed is Adrian David Cheok, Professor at Keio University, Graduate School of Media Design, in Tokyo Japan, as well as a Young Global Leader at World Economic Forum.

Dr. Cheok has been a hero of mine in pushing the envelop of augmented reality. He will join an amazing group of keynote speakers in previous years.

Adrian has been a champion of the idea that Augmented Reality is more than just about the visual sense, but has to include all the senses. Over the years, he’s been working hard to prove his idea and created many prototypes of augmented reality systems that involve the other senses.
To warm you up, check out his Hug Accentuator.

I can’t wait to see his Kissinger system in action.

(Hint: it’s not about the legendary statesman.)

Dr. Adrian David Cheok also created the first real world Pac Man game. When he wanted to create an exciting augmented reality game, he chose to remake the first video game to ever introduce a character – the legendary Pac Man. Cheok literally stepped into Pacman’s shoes in this first-person-shooter-like real world game.

Make sure to register for ARE 2012 before the early bird discount expires on March 21st.

Here’s an excerpt from Adrian’s illustrious career so far:

Adrian David Cheok was the Founder and Director of the Mixed Reality Lab, Singapore. and previously worked in real-time systems, soft computing, and embedded computing in Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs, Japan.

Mr. Cheok has been working on research covering mixed reality, human-computer interfaces, wearable computers and ubiquitous computing, fuzzy systems, embedded systems, power electronics. He has successfully obtained funding for externally funded projects in the area of wearable computers and mixed reality from Nike, National Oilwell Varco, Defense Science Technology Agency, Ministry of Communications and Arts, National Arts Council, Singapore Science Center, Hougang Primary School. The research output has included numerous high quality academic journal papers, research awards, keynote speeches, international exhibitions, numerous government demonstrations including to the President and Prime Minister of Singapore, broadcast television worldwide broadcasts on his research (such as CNN/CNBC/ABC/Discovery/National Geographic etc.), and hundreds of international press media articles.

In addition, Mr. Cheok has been a keynote and invited speaker at numerous international conferences and events. He was invited to exhibit for two years in the Ars Electronica Museum of the Future, launching in the Ars Electronica Festival 2003. His works “Human Pacman”, “Magic Land”, and “Metazoa Ludens”, were each selected as one of the worlds top inventions by Wired and invited to be exhibited in Wired NextFest 2005 and 2007. More…

United merger today goes terribly wrong. Shows a moral about life.

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I called United today to cancel a booking, and make another booking using my miles. What normally would take 5 minutes or so, took nearly 2 hours! The reason was today was the actual day of the United and Continental merger.

Firstly my United mileage plus account was gone. The lady could then retrieve my new Continental One Pass mileage number, but then I realized almost all my miles were missing!

The lady asked if I can go to the web site to create a new pin while she held on the phone. To my amazement, the entire United Airlines and Continental Airlines web site around the world (USA and Japan site) is completely down! The lady told me then that there were so many problems it looks like the web site was completely shut down. Finally after about one and a half hours, the lady could make my booking. But then she couldn’t issue the ticket because my miles are missing. It was kind of a Catch-22 nightmare. Finally the lady (who was very nice, and apologized many times) made the booking and put it on hold for 3 days in the hope that my miles will somehow be found.

This experience showed to me that even the largest airline in the world, which has spent months and months and probably millions of dollars in planning, can completely crash due to complexity. We can learn from this that complexity of life is so multidimensional and nonlinear that it is effectively impossible to predict or control. If we decide to plan for even a small event, we can be caught up in “analysis paralysis” and spend all of our energy to control life. Instead, similarly to Zen philosophy, we should remove our expectations, and stop trying to control life. Instead let life flow, and let our minds and bodies flow with it.

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