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Home News From robots to projection mapping: Inside Panasonic’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic tech

From robots to projection mapping: Inside Panasonic’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic tech

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The crate of Coca-Cola was heavy. Not unmanageably so, but weighty in a way that I was content to lift it up and put it down just the once. The thought of humping dozens of them off a truck and into a warehouse did not fill me with joy.

However, I was wearing Panasonic’s Atoun Power Suit, a kind of robotic backpack, and it was about to make life much easier. Near my hips I felt motors whirr, and rods attached to the straps around my thighs started to flex. It was taking some of the strain for me as I lifted the crate again, lessening the stress on my body.

I wasn’t lifting my crate in a warehouse, but in the Panasonic Centre in Tokyo, Japan, and this incredible piece of mobility tech was just my introduction to Panasonic’s tech involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. An insight into future tech innovations suited to sports events, and its plan for the opening ceremony, was still to come.

Atoun Power Suit

Panasonic Atoun Power Suit from the front. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Panasonic’s Atoun Power Suit isn’t new, but next year it will become the first ever piece of robotic equipment to be used in the Paralympic Games. Specifically, it will be used during the Powerlifting event; but don’t worry, the competitors won’t have it on their backs. Instead, it will be worn by the spot-loaders who load up the massive weights that the Olympians will be lifting.

What is the Atoun Power Suit, and what does it actually do? The temptation is to assume it increases you strength, but it doesn’t. It decreases the stress on your lower back when picking up and putting down heavy objects. At the Paralympics Para Powerlifting event, the spot-loaders are the people putting on and taking off the weights the competitor will lift. The spot-loaders lift and lower all the weights throughout the event, and due to the sheer amount of weight — athletes can lift up to three-times their own body weight, meaning anywhere up to 295kg, or 650 pounds — not only is fatigue going to set in quickly for the spot-loaders, but there’s also the chance of serious injury.

Panasonic Atoun Power Suit from the back. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The Atoun Power Suit takes some of this pressure away. Motors are activated by angle sensors in the suit — which is really a backpack with straps attaching it to your chest, waist, and thighs — when it notices a change in the angle of your body. The compensation the suit provides is approximately 10kg, and a dampening effect softens impact. Wearing it, you don’t feel like the suit is “adding” anything to you, but that it’s more like a body shock absorber. You feel almost like someone is behind you pulling you into an upright position. It’s uncanny at first, especially when it activates and you feel it brace and tighten; but you quickly become used to it. It doesn’t just work on the upward motion either, it also has a braking system to help when you put things down too.

The pack itself is 4.5kg, and because it’s strapped tightly to your body, the weight is evenly spread and you never feel like you’re lugging around a heavy piece of equipment. You can hear the motors working, and there are solid physical buttons on the side to adjust the amount of energy the suit puts out. It’s all powered by a battery pack which will last for about four-and-half-hours before it needs a recharge. Although I had some help putting it on, with a little practice you can do it on your own. It’s an exciting piece of beneficial, non-invasive, body enhancing technology.



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panasonic tokyo 2020 technology interview atoun backpackPansonic Atoun Power Suit Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

panasonic tokyo 2020 technology interview controls brakeAtoun Power Suit braking controls Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

panasonic tokyo 2020 technology interview atoun control assistPanasonic Power Suit assist controls Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

panasonic tokyo 2020 technology interview atoun batteryPanasonic Power Suit battery pack Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Panasonic’s intention with the Atoun Power Suit at the Paralympics is to help the spot-loaders work longer with fewer physical problems. What would have been a 10-minute work session becomes a 20-minute session for those wearing the Power Suit, and during that time there is less chance of anyone injuring themselves. It’s similar to how Panasonic already deploys the Atoun. In addition to factories, older people working on farms in rural areas in Japan wear the Power Suit so they can continue working when normally, where otherwise the physical strain would make it either impossible or painful to perform their tasks.

Panasonic’s tech

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

In addition to the Atoun Power Suit being used in the Paralympics, Panasonic’s also working on other exciting technology to not only make it easier for people to attend and enjoy the 2020 Tokyo Games, but also to make the opening ceremony even more spectacular than usual.

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    Panasonic’s new electric boxes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
  • 2.
    Panasonic’s luggage delivery system, with scanner and QR code.
  • 3.
    Panasonic’s new open-air air-conditioning system.

I was given a tour of the public exhibition of Panasonic’s Olympic innovations, along with a glimpse behind the scenes at what it may introduce for future Games too. Tokyo will be dotted with Panasonic’s new electric power boxes, which will replace some of the overhead wires that dominate the city’s streets now, and these installations also incorporate large screens that show local information, safety information in the event of a natural disaster, and provide a public Wi-Fi hotspot — something lacking in the otherwise well-connected Tokyo).

It’s joined by a new eco-friendly open-air cooling system to help visitors cope with Japan’s summer heat. Nozzles spray a fine mist into the air, which unlike similar systems that make you damp, this does not. The fine spray is also ice cold, and is currently being trialed inside some of Tokyo’s subway stations. Finally, a convenient way to transport luggage from the airport to a hotel or sports venue will be introduced, which after pre-booking just needs a QR code to be scanned on arrival to put the service into motion, and doesn’t need an understanding of the Japanese language.

The future

  • 1.
    Panasonic’s autonomous wheelchair
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    It’s controled using a smartphone with face recognition
  • 3.
    Manual controls are provided too

Going behind the scenes at the Panasonic Centre, I got a glimpse at what the company is working on for the future. Although none of it is specifically for the Olympics, the technology could be easily transferred over to a range of sporting environments. I took a ride in an autonomous wheel chair, which is designed to transport people with disabilities around large areas. Sensors at each corner avoid crashes, a smartphone controls the destination and is logged into using face recognition, and it’s so safe that it won’t set off if your feet are not properly placed on the footrest.

Using a series of cameras and some artificial intelligence algorithms, Panasonic has a way to track people’s movements in a fixed space, ready to show muscle balance, flexibility, and through a 3D visualization, form and motion too. Just three cameras watched you walk and move around, and then statistics are displayed on a screen, along with an instantly created visual model too. This, along with a smart camera system that identified heart rate, emotion, and concentration levels could provide greater insight into an athletes performance, all without any intrusive wearable tech.

Opening ceremony and projection mapping

As one of the top Olympic partners, a wide array of Panasonic hardware is used during the Games, ranging from screens and broadcast cameras, to security equipment and projectors. For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it will build once again on its presence during the all-important opening ceremony, and even more Panasonic projectors will be used during it for a technique known as projection mapping.

The type of projector Panasonic uses for its projection mapping shows. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Panasonic’s projectors were first used during the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony, but between then and now, Panasonic has had an even greater degree of involvement. Panasonic’s Shunsu Sonoda explained:

“In London we just supplied the projectors. From Rio 2016, we had more involvement to create the entertainment with the projectors. We are inside, so we can do some testing, learn how to nicely show content, and be involved in the planning phase. Now for Tokyo 2020, it’s under discussion for what we can do together.”

I asked if it was fair to say Panasonic’s involvement would be even greater again, and he indicated that this is the intention. No confirmation could be given for this reason, and because the content of the opening ceremony is always a closely held secret.

Projection mapping, if the tech is new to you, uses projected light to create art on 3D objects. It’s part augmented reality, part digital video effect, and when used on a large scale can be jaw-dropping. The pressure to deliver is huge though.

“[The Olympics is] the biggest event watched on TV, and we can’t allow for mistakes,” Sonada continued. “If the projection fails, it is a problem.”

It’s important to Panasonic’s business, as it can promote its technology not just to the general public, but also to businesses who may want to buy the projectors too. Panasonic demonstrated its ability to impress with projection mapping when it put on a startling show during the “One Year to Go” Olympic event held in Osaka, Japan in July. Take a look at the video above to see what’s possible with Panasonic’s projectors.

Panasonic and the Olympics

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Panasonic is one of the founding partners of the Olympic Partner Program, along with Visa and Coca-Cola, and has been steadily increasing its involvement with the Olympics over the past 30 years, and has currently confirmed it’ll continue the partnership until 2024.

Even the Panasonic philosophy of, “progressing society and the well being of people worldwide,” closely matches the Olympic Movement statement of, “building a peaceful and better world.”

For Tokyo 2020, it’s “home” Olympic Games, it is really stepping up its commitment. The foyer at the Panasonic Center is filled with Tokyo 2020 material, including the new mascots, plus there is a display of previous Olympic torches. It’s justly proud of its involvement, and seeing the tech already announced, along with hearing about the potential plans for the opening ceremony emphasizes all of this.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics begins on July 24 and runs until August 9, while the 2020 Summer Paralympics starts on August 25 until September 6.


Boost Mobile calls up three new entry-level rate plans

Boost Mobile on Monday introduced three new entry-level plans for consumers who may need to stick to a tight budget. The trio include unlimited talk and text with varying degrees of high speed data.Boost Mobile already has two rate plans which cost less than $50, a 10GB ($35) and $45 (15GB). With the addition of the new options Boost subscribers now have five choices under $50.$10 – Unlimited talk, text, and 1GB data$15 – Unlimited talk, text, and 2GB data$25 – Unlimited talk, text, and 5GB dataIn addition to the new rate plan, Boost Mobile is also introducing high-speed data add-on packages which can be recurring or one-time usage. Pricing is $5 per gigabyte and is available in one and two gigabyte options.SEE: Boost Mobile Buyer’s GuideBoost Mobile does have a pair of unlimited data plans which cost $50 and $60 per month. The difference between the two being the former includes 12GB mobile hotspot while the latter has 30GB hotspot and unlimited HD video streaming.Boost recently launched a new $hrink-It! plan which starts out at $45 per month and includes 15GB data. Customers who pay their bill on time three months receive a $5 discount on their plan. Do it again, and Boost will shave another $5 off each month, putting it at just $35 per month after six total on-time payments.

WaterField Bootcamp Gym Bag review

We might be largely stuck at home as the summer 2020 season kicks into high gear but that doesn’t mean we’re completely hopeless. Businesses are open, albeit with limited hours, and likely a few safety measure in place.One segment of business that a lot of us missed during the shutdown was the workout and personal fitness one. Sure, we can get in a few exercises and routines at home, but there’s nothing like having a dedicated place to go with proper equipment.If you’re among those willing and/or able to get to and from a gym, you’ll want to pack the right gear. For some that means just a quick change of shoes. For others it might mean a dedicated outfit, headphones, water bottle, and more.Up for review today is the WaterField Bootcamp Gym Bag, a perfect companion for toting your items back and forth to the gym. 1 of 4 We’ve been a fan of the WaterField brand since we first had to chance to check out its products. And after spending some time with this one, we’ve fallen head over heels with it. In fact, we’ve come to use it on an almost daily basis, gym or no gym.Almost square in stature (13.5-inches x 12.5-inches), the Bootcamp Gym Bag is available in tan waxed canvas or ballistic nylon. Our review unit was the former, which we’ve found gets a nice patina and unique look after a few weeks.The size is just right for putting into most gym lockers, and adequate enough for the stuff we carry with us on a day-today basis. Some days that means a portable charger, pair of shoes, notebook, and a magazine. Other days it’s car keys, water bottles, and a change of clothes.We appreciate that there are two pockets for (up to 3-inch) bottles, one at each end. This is great for days when you might leave the house with any combination of protein shake, sports drink, energy drink, or water.The main interior can be accessed by way of both side. On one you’ll find it is zippered nearly all the way around. On the other there is a zipper across the top which lets you quickly reach an internal pocket. We like that the bag allows for easy access — even when the bag is in a locker.The “rip-stop” lining is not just functional, preventing tears and snags, but also provides an eye-catching complimentary color.On the exterior is a pocket that snaps closed with a magnet, and is often where we toss our keys, earbud case, and wallet. Flip it around and you’ll find a pocket that fits magazines, books, and other items to be hastily stashed.If you’re the type who gets up at the crack of dawn, ready to take on the world with CrossFit, you’ll dig this bag. It’s the right size for your wrist straps, gloves, and other gear. The same goes for indoor wall climbers and weight-lifters. The WaterField Bootcamp Gym Bag is the right size for your daily tools.Depending on how and where you use the bag, you might find yourself using the shoulder strap. It’s included with the bag and sort of re-purposes it into a daily commuter bag. While it doesn’t have a laptop or tablet sleeve, it does have enough nooks and crannies to stow away pens, notepads, phones, keys, and more.This will likely become our go-to bag for traveling by air, if and when that ever happens again. It’s convenient, flexible, and comprises of quality materials.If you like the distressed look, get out there and own it. But, if you want to touch it up or refresh the coating, you can purchase wax and apply it in a matter of minutes. Doing so also gives your bag a water repellent finish and makes it so spills and stains can be wiped away.One of the biggest reasons we’ve become fans of WaterField and its products is that they stand behind them. Indeed, the Bootcamp Gym Bag is backed by a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.Learn more about the Bootcamp Gym Bag ($199), and other bags at the WaterField website.

TRIO MAX: Give your laptop two more screens on the go

Few things can provide a boost to your productivity like a secondary display. If you’ve ever tried it, you know just how frustrating it can be moving back to a single screen.Then, when you get into a third screen… well, that’s an entirely different experience. All of a sudden you’re hopping between tasks, keeping up with emails, watching videos, posting to social media, and more — all without closing a tab.Buying a second or third monitor can be costly, and take up a fair amount of space. What’s more, if you live a portable lifestyle, you’ll end up leaving that screen behind when you head to the library or coffee shop.If you’ve ever pondered what it’s like to have a multiple screens for your laptop or Chromebook, wonder no more. The Mobile Pixels TRIO MAX brings a pair of plug-n-play USB displays to your favorite portable workplace.Whether it’s photo editing, blogging, working on a term paper, or just managing emails and social media, you’ll appreciate the extra real estate. Hell, it’s even awesome for gaming,too.Simply connect the TRIO MAX to the back of your laptop, plug it in via USB, and slide out the extra displays. The TRIO MAX’s hinge provides up to 270° of rotation, which means you can adjust the monitors to the exact position that works for you.Get Yours Now!The Mobile Pixels TRIO MAX is normally priced about $319, but you can grab one for just $269.99, or about 15% off!Pick up a second one and you can save even more. That’s right, a pair of TRIO MAX’s is your for just $499.99, or $250 each. Best SellersSave even more!For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.First Time Buying?If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.Free StuffNot looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

Are you qualified to have a cell tower on your land?

Of most other forms of leases out there, cell tower leases are not very known to the public. Do you want to know how to negotiate cell tower lease rates? Then, read this article by Vertical Consultants: Cell Tower Lease Rates – How Rent Is Negotiated. Most people who can benefit from cell tower leases do not know about them. These business agreements are an amazing asset that landowners should consider. If you are a property owner with space available for the installation of a cell tower, this can be a good additional source of income for you.You can have a lease agreement with cellular providers such as Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. This agreement, essentially, permits the cellular provider to install and operate cellular equipment on your property in exchange for rent.How to Get a Cell Tower on Your LandYou may want to learn about everything landowners need to know about cell tower lease rates. That is if you have a tract of land you are not currently using. If this sounds like a viable money-making option for you, you need to find out how cellular network carriers choose the ideal installation area.You can lease your land for a cell tower in several ways. The easiest way is to invite a carrier’s site acquisition agent to visit your land. Due to the number of property owners who know about cell tower lease rates and the amount of money involved, you need to be careful. You cannot simply request for a cellular tower lease and assume the process will begin immediately.No wireless firm will build a cell tower on your land if it does not meet a specific business need. No matter how long you market your land, other factors will come into play. Unless you own property in one of the search rings, which are some of the most attractive areas for cellular providers, you are out of luck.Fortunately, cell tower search rings expand and change. Cellular carriers evaluate and expand their search rings to gain new areas and users. In a sense, they play a game of luck. If you have a great location now, a couple of years from now, it might not be worth as much. As a landowner, it always pays to learn more about cell tower lease rates.The Reason There Are So Many Cell TowersCurrently, the world is on the Internet and mobile-centric era. Much like owning a coffee maker, a car, or a washing machine, most people cannot imagine living without a tablet or smartphone. In a way, connected devices are the new remote controls for most people’s lives.People are looking for more than lightning-fast connectivity. Today, there are internet-connected televisions, alarm systems, fridges, lighting systems, washers, and more. Common fixtures and devices today require an internet connection and additional bandwidth. If you own land in one of these areas, you are in luck. You can make anywhere between $100 to $45,000 annually depending on the needs of the network company, the population density in the area, and the construction limitations, among other factors.Cell towers on municipal or private land are some of the most convenient ways for cellular firms to generate income for the future. That is why they spent tons of money to secure their networks. If you think you can accommodate a cell tower in your land, get in touch with cell tower lease experts in your area.