Tuesday October 15, 2019
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Tech And Entertainment Industries Chase After Realistic Face Masks From Japan

Kitagawa said he works with clients carefully to ensure his products will not be used for illicit purposes.

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Face masks
REAL-f Co. President Osamu Kitagawa holds a super-realistic face mask at his factory in Otsu, western Japan. VOA

Super-realistic face masks made by a tiny company in rural Japan are in demand from the domestic tech and entertainment industries and from countries as far away as Saudi Arabia.

The 300,000-yen ($2,650) masks, made of resin and plastic by five employees at REAL-f Co., attempt to accurately duplicate an individual’s face down to fine wrinkles and skin texture.

Company founder Osamu Kitagawa came up with the idea while working at a printing machine manufacturer.

But it took him two years of experimentation before he found a way to use three-dimensional facial data from high-quality photographs to make the masks, and started selling them in 2011.

Face Masks
Super-realistic face masks are displayed at factory of REAL-f Co. in Otsu, western Japan. VOA

The company, based in the western prefecture of Shiga, receives about 100 orders every year from entertainment, automobile, technology and security companies, mainly in Japan.

For example, a Japanese car company ordered a mask of a sleeping face to improve its facial recognition technology to detect if a driver had dozed off, Kitagawa said.

“I am proud that my product is helping further development of facial recognition technology,” he added. “I hope that the developers would enhance face identification accuracy using these realistic masks.”

Kitagawa, 60, said he had also received orders from organizations linked to the Saudi government to create masks for the king and princes.

Face masks
Face off: Realistic masks made in Japan find demand from tech, car firms. 

“I was told the masks were for portraits to be displayed in public areas,” he said.

Kitagawa said he works with clients carefully to ensure his products will not be used for illicit purposes and cause security risks, but added he could not rule out such threats.

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He said his goal was to create 100 percent realistic masks, and he hoped to use softer materials, such as silicon, in the future.

“I would like these masks to be used for medical purposes, which is possible once they can be made using soft materials,” he said. “And as humanoid robots are being developed, I hope this will help developers to create [more realistic robots] at a low cost.” (VOA)

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Miniso Goes Online With Amazon’s ‘Great Indian Festival’

Miniso and e-commerce major Amazon on Friday annoucned a partnership whereby the former would sell its products starting with the upcoming 'Great Indian Festival'

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Miniso, Japan, Amazon, Launch, Online
The retailer will start with products under the kitchen, home and beauty categories on the amazon.in. Wikimedia Commons

The Japanese retail company Miniso and e-commerce major Amazon on Friday annoucned a partnership whereby the former would sell its products on the online platform starting with the upcoming ‘Great Indian Festival’.

The retailer will start with products under the kitchen, home and beauty categories on the amazon.in, the e-commerce platform said in a statement.

Commenting on the partnership, Shalini Puchalapalli, Director for Category Management, Amazon India said: “We are excited to partner with Miniso and offer customers a wide range of selection on Amazon.in. During the Great Indian Festival customers can look forward to a wide selection of products from the best brands on Amazon.in”.

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Siddharth Venkataraman, CEO of Achhacart, which takes care of Miniso’s sales in India said: “This festive season, customers would be able to buy all their favourite Miniso products online with the customer experience assurance of Amazon”. (IANS)