The latest technology designed to help prevent illness and injury among Japan's rapidly ageing population has gone on display. Sharon Reich reports.
There's a theme at this year's ME-BYO (pronounced mee-bee-yoh) medical expo in Yokohama. The biotech industry has its sights set on devices for Japan's ageing population. Kazuo Shimizu is demonstrating his company's smartphone app called Mind Monitoring Systems, which he hopes will help doctors diagnose far away patients by phone. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) PST CORPORATION INC SALES MANAGER, KAZUO SHIMIZU, SAYING: "This technology can estimate people's mental condition by capturing the vibration of the vocal cords." For elderly who have trouble walking, the folks at the Cyberbyne Robo Care Center created a Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL). It's a robot suit that measures muscle movement and accordingly helps the elderly walk and carry heavy objects. Takashi Kasukawa explains. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) CYBERBYNE ROBO CARE CENTER MANAGER OF SALES PLANNING DEPARTMENT, TAKASHI KASUKAWA, SAYING: "The brain's information is transmitted to the muscle through the nerve cells during movements. The Hybrid Assistive Limb will catch the bioelectric potential signals generated at that time and then act." Exhibitors are tackling all fronts and showcasing devices for hospitals too. Like this Flowsky toilet by Toto, which acts as a uroflowmeter. A user urinates into the toilet where a sensor measures changes in urine flow rate and volume, providing a reading shortly afterwards. In all 27 bio-tech industry related organizations exhibited advanced health technologies at the expo. And hopes are that some of these technologies will help Japan reduce the problems associated with an ageing population, including higher medical costs.