My alarm clock somehow ended up like this on Friday morning. Thank god I didn't have to wake up at 6am like usual.
Friday was the last day of my internship company’s R&D Forum, which was a three day event to showcase their research and prototypes. Most of my colleagues attended all 3 days, since they had to station at our team’s booth to explain their research to the public. I went on Friday, and was free to walk around the exhibit to understand different research areas.
N-san and I left our dorm at 10am, and it took roughly 2 hours to get to Musashino (武蔵野), where the event was held…. It involved transferring for 3 trains and 1 bus. o(>< )o
After the train rides, we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch.... we both ordered this: Omelette rice set with grapefruit juice (It's really sour, I miss my Tropicana Pink Grapefruit juice)..
The event was held in this building on the Musashino campus. Next to the building was a Museum about the company's technologies in the past, but I didn't have time to visit =(
N-san told me she had to come to the Musashino office quite often, for training purposes. お疲れ様です！
The resting area at the forum. I didn't think taking photos of the booths was a great idea..
I arrived there around 1:45pm and received my guest pass+package.
The event spanned three floors, but only the top and bottom floors had exhibitions. There were talks whichI did not attend since I couldn’t understand anything.
We first went to our team’s booth at the basement floor- half of the members were standing there, they were busy explaining/demo-ing. So after greeting them, I began setting off to visit other booths.
Booths at the basement area mostly belong to cyber solutions research- ranging from network security, cryptography to multi-media and data management…
The first booth I went to set up cameras around the exhibit area, those were 360 degree cameras with mirrors in them… the researcher held up his tablet (of course not iPad, but a Docomo device) and by tilting and moving the tablet, he could view different direction/area of the field. I thought it’d be a cool surveillance tool, but he said their goal was to apply to entertainment systems. He provided me with an example-
“Do you know AKB?” he asked.
“Yes.” (in fact, when I was on the train that day, I saw their faces printed on those “hand holding plastic loops” thingies on the train, ya know what I mean…)
“So you know there are many members, right? If we use this technology, then people can open up a poster or something, and view each member by moving their tablets/phones!” He beamed.
“Why not just use fingers to pinch and zoom then?” I wondered.
“It’s less interactive, and less- interesting.”
“Oh,ha-haha, cool.” After thanking him, I walked away.
Otaku (お宅) alert!!! Apparently, there are many Otakus at the company. Otaku has a really broad definition (besides Anime, Manga, AKB48 etc) … for example, a guy on my team is a “Train” Otaku, another is a “Gadgets” Otaku, one is an “Origami” Otaku!!!
I still remember when I first met this guy from another team, the first thing he asked me was “Otaku??” >.<“” – did I look/dress like one ?
Anyway, I saw some interesting booths that day, those who aren’t interested can skip straight to the next part.
- A tool to analyse a 2-D photo of a person and generate 3-D avatar from it- capable of simulating speech movement
- A real-time translation system during phone call (too bad it’s a synthesized voice)
- Multi-core optic fibre to speed up network speed
- Satellite technology for disaster reporting (this is particularly useful for a country like Japan)
- Quantum memory (difficult but interesting topic!)
- Video analysis to determine emotions (actually done by the team next to mine!)
- Video watermarking (like QR code but on TV)
- Another video processing technology to analyse a video of a lecture on blackboard.. and break up the video by topics/chapters!
- Education system with tablet (the guy was really enthusiastic, but too bad didn’t get a lot of govt support due to pressure from textbook publishing companies)
- Using fluid motion patterns on a screen can trick your brain to neglect electronic hand writing latency (hard to explain, but cool demo!)
That day, I met quite a few people from other teams of the Yokosuka Office. Was surprised most of them knew I was the new intern student from Canada.
I did not get to visit every single booth (I didn’t even rest at all)… some were interesting but had no real/immediate application. But I guess this is what research is like- it takes years to develop a technology and put it into good use. Any of the research I saw that day could be a revolutionary product in the future.
Things I got from the day...
The event ended at 5pm, so I went to meet up with the team. After packing up, we filled out this survey and received a solar keychain torch in return!
Our team’s after party was held at a Okinawa restaurant in Kichijoji (吉祥寺), a town that’s voted as the most desirable place to live in Tokyo.
The outside of the restaurant
There were 8 of us at the party, my supervisor couldn’t attend as he had a meeting at some university. It was still fun, nonetheless, and OMG, it’s Okinawa food!! Okinawa is the place that I want to visit the most in Japan!!
Like most bars, it's all you can drink- look at the drink menu! the dish at middle is some seaweed in vinegar.
Food to nibble on when drinking. Tofuyo (豆腐餻), pig ears (豚耳), tofu with salted fishes.
My colleagues were surprised that I have had Tofuyo before. Well, it’s similar to 腐乳 in Chinese food, also fermented in some sort of alcohol. Except in Okinawa, they use Awamori (泡盛) instead.
Our group leader was half hour late to the place, because she made the mistake of getting on the wrong train (looks like japanese make that mistake too XD)
Umi Budou (海ぷどうSea grape) with tuna tataki salad- Umi Buto tastes just like Tobiko/caviar!! Loved it!!!
Pancakes made of squid ink! tasted like Korean's seafood pancakes.
On the left is stirfry with Spam, right side is some deep fried fish+veggie
There were 3 more dishes which I forgot to take photos of: Stone pot rice with meat+veggie (similar to Korean’s Bibimbap), Fat pork stew Okinawa style =), and Goya Chanpuru (Bitter melon stirfry) All food was delicious!!! Some of them I’ve never tried before, and I probably wouldn’t try by myself!
At the party, 6 were ladies and 2 were guys. All were strong drinkers (called “Nombe” in Japanese), except me and the two guys lol
They all drank without showing any signs, when my cheeks were riingo red after my 2nd drink!
Since we were at a Okinawa restaurant, I tried some special drinks…
To start off, I had a regular beer.. then I had my favorite plum wine (Okinawa brown sugar flavor), the famous rice Awamori (it was too bitter for my taste), Shoju with Jasmine tea (weird mix, barely tasted the alcohol… but a nice cool down after the strong awamori).
My last drink was the best !! Shikuwasa (a citrus fruit in Okinawa) beer!!! What a refreshing and perfect drink to end the long day…
I finally understand why Japanese enjoy having after work parties so much- they are really stressed from long day of work, considering it’s normal for people to work 10+hours a day. And having a beer at the end of the day is just refreshing! Drinking and having convos is a good way to have fun with the entire team. At our table, our group leader and I were talking about Korean dramas … while the other table were singing some Anime songs and playing Okinawa comedy shows on smartphones XD
It was snowing when we stepped out of the restaurant.
We walked to the Kijichoji station and began our 2 hour ride home… Transferred at the Tokyo station (the biggest station in Japan) and Yokohama was nothing compared to how crowded it was!! Mind you, it was almost 12 am at night!