Tsukuba is located about an hour outside of Tokyo and is home to a number of institutes. One of them, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), invited me to participate in a conference called "Japan-US Symposium on International Standardization Toward a Low Carbon Society." While there was not a lot of focus on displays, it was an interesting and worthwhile visit.
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On the first day, we all gathered to hear speakers covering various aspects of research, while on the second day we spent more time with our hosts , received a short tour of the facility and then breaking to meet individually in our topic areas. I was invited to talk about trends in 3D and met with Dr. Hiroyasu Ujike in the afternoon.
It turned out that this event was also a plenary meeting that is part of an MOU between AIST and the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This MOU calls for cooperation in research in several areas that can lead to development of new standards. The two also exchange researchers for up to a year at a time.
AIST is a quasi government institute having been formally spun out of METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 2001, but it still gets 95% of its funding from this government body. The mission of AIST is to develop basic research and then further develop promising technologies and complete a transfer to industry.
NIST develops technology in support of new standards and can make suggestions on the standard requirements, resolve technical disputes and provide calibrated materials and samples.
The topics covered at the event included smart grid technology, LED lighting, 3D imaging, thermal and mechanical properties, and nano-materials. Most of this was very arcane and detailed science reports on R&D programs. So why was I there? To help paint the bigger picture of activities in the 3D ecosystem, to suggest areas of standards needs, and to provide an overview on the activities of the 3D @ Home Consortium.
AIST and NIST are both involved in 3D imaging, but these are small scale efforts. As far as I could tell, Dr. Ujike’s program was the only active one at AIST. NIST has supported display metrology in general, but with the retirement of Ed Kelly last year, that activity is mostly on hiatus. I think it is fair to say that most in attendance were unaware of the scope and timing for 3D consumer products in the home. As a result, there seemed to be renewed interest in this topic. And, NIST has some new stimulus money, so perhaps displays will get back on the agenda.
The tie to a low carbon society was pretty weak. But the agreement between former Prime Minister Aso and President Obama last Autumn, which stressed increased cooperation in many eco-friendly areas, was mentioned many times.
In the afternoon, I had a chance to meet with Dr. Ujike in his laboratory. He showed me some experiments he had done testing people’s reaction to moving 2D video. Many types of moving content were shown and subjects were questioned every minute and their physiological responses noted. Variations of this continue. Most interestingly, was the work he was doing to develop a commercial product that could be used to evaluate 2D or 3D video for factors that might induce motion sickness. This is based on an analysis of movement within the video and the establishment of thresholds that may indicate they exceed most people’s comfort level. This might be one important tool for helping to ensure that quality 3D content reaches consumers - a goal everyone in the industry supports.