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CEATEC electronics show displays connected future

Asia's largest electronics and information technology convention
began Tuesday near Tokyo, with companies showing off cutting-edge
devices and services to demonstrate their vision of a future where
many aspects of life are connected via networks.

Regulars at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, or
CEATEC, such as Panasonic Corp. and Sharp Corp. hosted large booths
with lavish displays, while two of Japan's biggest banking groups are
also participating.

Sharp drew a sizeable crowd with its flagship 70-inch television
featuring an ultra high-definition 8K liquid crystal display. The
product goes on sale this month in China and in December in Japan and
is expected to carry a price tag of about 1 million yen ($8,880).

The technology is the electronics maker's answer to organic
light-emitting diode, or OLED, TVs being touted by rivals as the
next-generation alternative to conventional LCDs. The 8K screens are
capable of four times the resolution of 4K and 16 times that of full
high definition, or 2K.

Sharp also announced a cheaper version of the RoBoHon, a
humanoid robot with artificial intelligence that doubles as a
smartphone. The 138,000 yen model can connect to the internet via
Wi-Fi but does away with cellular connectivity for those who already
own a phone.

Panasonic's booth showcases how new in-home technology can help
care for aging family members or educate children.

The electronics maker is developing an air conditioning unit
with an attached sensor that tracks whether an elderly person is
sleeping well at night, allowing care workers to pay them a visit if
a problem becomes apparent. Panasonic hopes the system will help
distant family members stay in touch as Japan's population gets
rapidly older.

Also on display is Cocotto, a white ball-shaped robot that helps
develop infants' social skills by rolling around and talking.

A total of 667 companies and organizations from Japan and 22
other countries and regions have exhibits at the event being held in
Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba Prefecture through Friday,
up from 648 exhibitors last year. Organizers expect the number of
visitors to reach 160,000.

Component maker Omron Corp. brought its table tennis-playing
robot Forpheus to CEATEC for the fourth straight year, this time with
improvements such as the ability to serve the ball using an
additional articulated arm and the capacity to better react to
hard-hit shots.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics singles bronze medalist Jun Mizutani
squared off against the machine in a press event the previous day,
playing a more than 65-shot rally before he moved in for the kill.
The robot managed, barely, to return the ball.

"I didn't actually think it would hit the ball back," Mizutani
said with a smile.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan's second-biggest
banking group by revenue, is participating at CEATEC for the first
time, showing off advancements in financial technology, or fintech,
such as a system created with NEC Corp. that allows users to sign off
on credit card purchases by simply looking into a camera.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., the No. 1 banking group,
joined the event for the second straight year, with an area where
visitors can use its cryptocurrency, the MUFG coin.

Despite the notable absence of big names such as Sony Corp.,
Samsung Electronics Co., and LG Electronics Inc., CEATEC organizers
said nearly half of this year's exhibitors are newcomers, showing
that the event was evolving to reflect the spread of network
connectivity.


Photo shows a pendant-shaped translation machine, which is being exhibited at the CEATEC Japan electronics and information technology convention that started on Oct. 3, 2017 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. (Kyodo)