On the last day of the study tour we visited Sharp. We started the day a half hour earlier than planned because Sharp has told us the move the program forward. After hours of traveling by train we finally got off at Chiba – a suburb of Tokyo with enormous skyscrapers. It was obviously some luxury business park. After a 15 minute walk we finally found the Sharp building where we first got a tour of Sharp technologies. This included LCD TV’s, how LCD works, solar panels and Sharp’s view of the future. Although nice to see, its not all that shocking for us: all of the things we got to see are available on the market. One of the cool things was the 3D LCD (also on a mobile phone) and the dual view LCD (the driver of the car sees the navigation chart while the passenger can watch a movie – on the same screen).
Today we visited Nikko, a small town a good few hours from Tokyo. We started out using the Shinkansen and then we hopped on a local train to get to the countryside of Japan. If you are recovering from having the flu or some serious cold, I can say it is probably not a good idea to take the train to Nikko: it screeches with every movement and its quite a bumpy ride. After a 40 minute ride which felt like a day while I was trying to suppress the feeling of getting sick again, we finally arrived at Nikko which was even the last station on the line.
Today we visited Nara again. Last time the weather was crap (rain) and other things were a bit off. This time however, the weather was brilliant: sunny, 12 degrees and we even got a station guard to walk us half-way to NEC. NEC has an awesome building but we weren’t allowed to make pictures. So I didn’t. Only when nobody looked.
Anyway, we had some cool tech demos about robots which interact with humans (think Aibo, think small toy-like gremlin, think way expensive), a door with lcd’s in them (I want one of those) and telecommunication walls with HD video links between different buildings. The lunch was decent, although pretty cold but that is probably because the kitchen chef never made a western meal like that. After the visit, we were greeted by a fleet of taxis out side NEC. Apparently someone noticed we were running late and they had called every cab in Nara to the NEC building. After the drivers had their fun with the fact that we probably are twice their length they brought us to NTT Communications Lab.