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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.

Also Read: Women In India Turn to Technology to Stay Safe From Harassment

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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Nearly 50% of Singles in Japan Have no Dating Prospects, Reveals Survey

The same study conducted five years earlier showed 38.7 per cent in disagreement and 22.3 per cent in agreement

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Online Dating.
Online Dating. Pixabay

Nearly 50 per cent of singles in Japan who wish to get married are unable to find a suitable partner, with 61.4 per cent of the group stating they are not doing anything to change the situation, a government survey revealed on Tuesday.

A lack of opportunity to meet an appropriate partner, or not having enough financial resources or ability to get along with the opposite sex are cited as major reasons in the outcome of the survey included in its annual report on Japan’s declining birth-rate that was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday morning, reports Kyodo News Agency.

The survey of around 4,000 men and women aged between 20 to 40 years old, conducted last December, found that 46.8 per cent of the respondents have said that they cannot find a suitable partner despite a desire to tie the knot.

The outcome prompted the government to recognize the need to continue measures supporting marriage amid the country’s rapidly aging population.

online-dating
A man uses the dating app Tinder in New Delhi, India. (VOA)

A separate government survey released earlier this month showed the number of newborns in Japan hitting a record-low of 918,397 in 2018, staying below the 1 million mark for the third year in a row.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet also approved an annual report on children and young people, in which it showed that 48.5 per cent of 13- to 29-year-olds disagree that men should be the breadwinner while women stayed at home, while 14.6 per cent agreed, Kyodo reported.

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The results of an online survey with 1,134 respondents, carried out last November and December, reflect a shifting mindset among Japan’s youth.

The same study conducted five years earlier showed 38.7 per cent in disagreement and 22.3 per cent in agreement. (IANS)