NEC Short Visit (By Roshan Peiris)

Dates : 15/12/2010 – 27/12/2010

Location : NEC - R&D Center in Osaka, Japan

Two members of the CUTE Center of Singapore, Jeffrey Koh and myself visited the NEC R&D Center in Osaka as a part of the Co-Dining research project between the two centers. This is a short report on the experience and discussion points during the trip.

The lab set up

The lab is located at the NEC Center in Osaka. It was about 1.5hours train/bus ride away from the hotel that we stayed in Tennoji, Osaka. The lab contained about 10 staffed researchers and another few interns. Overall, people were nice, friendly and were welcoming.

The lab is located on the second floor of the building. Here, they employ “hot-desking” so that every morning anyone could sit anywhere. The lab itself has many laptops on these desks which can be used by the researchers with permission. For the first few days I had issues connecting to the network and therefore had to use one of these laptops (I was informed by Maiko san that this is a problem they face quite commonly due to high network security measures they employ).


There is no tinkering area in the lab. Also there is no tinkering equipment in the lab (no soldering irons, oscilloscopes, drills, etc). In general I feel that this lab was not built focus for such work. Therefore it is essential that we bring all the equipment necessary for the setup and tinkering. Also we need to negotiate setting up a semi-permanent space for such work without having to hot-desk during the installation period.

The presentation

On the fourth day of our visit we presented our work to the lab members. Here the presentation was handled by Jeff where I presented a small demo of AmbiKraf. The presentation featured the focus of the CUTE Center and some of the work we have been doing so far for the NEC project. We presented videos and pictures of the current state of the projects related to the NEC. There were many questions related to the food printer. The attendees raised questions about the motivation, durability and future scenarios regarding the food printer. Also there were some questions as to what our difference is compared to some existing systems. In addition, one of the researchers mentioned that we should have a proper scenario to explain our projects regarding to the NEC demo.

For the AmbiKraf demo, I showed one of the wall hangings from the SIGGRAPH demo. Here I presented how the color is changed and explained how the technology works. With regards to this demo there were many questions about the pixel size, speed and the activation temperature.


We had one main discussion with Maiko-san and Kato-san. The main discussion points are below.

· Location of the setup

o Maintenance : they concerned that if there was a problem then someone would have to come down from Singapore or Keio. We mentioned that since all the hardware is being done in Singapore someone from Singapore would have to come down (unless we train someone from Keio).

o Location : they are still negotiating where to setup the demo, in Keio or NEC due to the maintenance issues. As we discussed, NEC would not gain so much from setting up the demo in Keio since NEC visitors would have to be taken to Keio for the demos. Also if the demos are not so frequent, someone from Keio can come down for important demos to handle the setup.

· The demo setup

o Setup : there were concerns about the setup of the demo. If the system is installed in NEC how long would it take to setup, who would handle it etc. We mentioned that we will try our best to design the system to start up with minimal setting up. Only system that would require some preparation would be the food printer.

o How to demo : we were asked if the system could be demo’ed as standalone too (without having to connect to Singapore all the time). We mentioned that this is possible, but best would be to connect to a remote location to provide the actual experience. But still we could probably have “simulation” mode where the system simulates such a remote dining experience.

· The installation

o They concerned about the size of the demo. As from our previous discussions, even thought we visualized a larger system, they discussed that the set up should be as small as possible. Therefore currently we are aiming for a standard table-size demo.

· The food printer demo

o Maintenance : The maintenance of the food printer was a main issue. They worried that there would not be any one dedicated to handle the materials, preparation and cleaning every time before and after the materials.

o Set up : It was discussed that probably we can set up the demo for about one or two months at NEC and see the feasibility of conducting the demo. If not feasible it could be brought to Keio (just the printer)

· Tinkering space

o There is no equipment or space for tinkering

o They mentioned that the tinkering would have to be done in another location (setup by them)

o Try to setup as much as possible in Singapore (or Keio with the equipment there) and bring over to NEC for final assembly.

· Final presentation/setup

o All the systems are to arrive at NEC by the early march.

o Prof Cheok to present the final presentation to NEC upon the setup.

The tentative setup space at NEC


As seen here the tentative set up space is at the corner of a wall and a white board. The space allowed for setting up is as indicated in the images.