Panasonic’s Let’s Note laptops are pure Japanese business distilled into a brick

If you ever find yourself on a bullet train between, say, Tokyo and Osaka at 5.37pm on a Thursday afternoon, you’ll see a lot of dudes in suits with three things on the little fold-out table: a meticulously arranged bento box, a can of Suntory Premium Malts beer, and a Panasonic Let’s Note laptop.

Let’s Note laptops don’t look like much. Well, to be precise, they look like laptops from 2002. They have super boxy, inch-thick designs, squared-off screens, giant cooling vents, optical disc drives, VGA ports, and inexplicably circular trackpads. The line dates back to 1996, and hasn’t really changed much this millennium.

The range remains ubiquitous in Japan wherever there’s a need for portable computing, however, and Panasonic is putting a…

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Smart battery leader Moixa partners with Itochu for Japanese expansion

Smart battery leader Moixa partners with Itochu for Japanese expansion

UK smart battery company Moixa has agreed a partnership with Itochu, one of Japan’s largest trading houses. The deal includes a £5 million investment to push Moixa’s AI-enabled battery systems to the global market. 

Smart batteries from London-based Moixa can be installed in homes to store electricity when it’s at its cheapest. They are designed to give customers more control over their energy use, while protecting them from price hikes and power outages, and Moixa’s GridShare technology underpins a network of smart batteries that sells excess electricity back to the grid.

Itochu, meanwhile, is a sogo shosha (a Japanese general trading company), the second largest after Mitsubishi Corporation, and works in a wide range of markets, from textiles and  chemicals to information technology and real estate.

It already sells smart batteries, but Moixa’s GridShare technology has captured its interest. This is what enables Moixa customers to profit from their increased energy efficiency, since electricity stored during periods of low pricing or topped up by solar panels is sold back to the national grid, with a share of the profits going to each member of the network.

Read more: Japanese companies form alliance to accelerate smart factories

GridShare technology goes east

Itochu will have sold more than 6,000 units its ‘Smart Star’ home battery system by the end of March and plans to install GridShare as standard on its products by the summer of 2018.

Japan leads the way in terms of domestic energy storage. More than 125,000 smart systems were sold in 2016. Moixa and Itochu expect this number to exceed 500,000 in 2020. Japan also sits third in the global table of electric vehicle adoption. 

Koji Hasegawa, general manager of Itochu’s industrial chemicals department, said: “Moixa has pioneered battery management, and we are proud to be investing and working together to target the rapidly growing energy storage market in Japan.”

“Moixa’s GridShare will help our customers get more value for their home batteries and will offer solutions to help our partners manage Japan’s low-carbon transition.”

Read more: Brunel scientists develop flexible, wearable 3D-printed battery

Moixa’s ‘Virtual Power Plant’

The Moixa-Itochu partnership is a step towards developing Japan’s ‘Virtual Power Plant’. This forward-looking business model is based on making sure that distributed energy sources – including domestic solar panels and smart battery storage – are controlled in an integrated manner.

Moixa already has significant interest from stakeholders in Japan. Last year, it received investment from utility provider Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). It also has a partnership with Hitachi to develop a smart energy network in the Isles of Scilly.  

Moixa CEO Simon Daniel sees the Itochu partnership as the next step in his company’s global expansion. “Itochu is a major player in the global battery market and this partnership provides a real opportunity for us to expand our business in Japan and provide GridShare technology to many global battery companies,” he said.

“GridShare optimises the performance of home batteries by learning patterns of household energy use and solar generation, and adjusting to local weather and energy price signals. It can also help customers make more money by using their spare battery capacity to provide services that help utilities and electricity networks balance supply and demand.”

Read more: Metals shortages pose little risk to future battery production, MIT finds

The post Smart battery leader Moixa partners with Itochu for Japanese expansion appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Marvel’s editor-in-chief apologizes for pretending to be a Japanese man

Marvel’s current editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski apologized today for writing Marvel comic books in 2005 and 2006 while pretending to be a Japanese man named Akira Yoshida. “I’m truly sorry for the pain, anger, and disappointment I caused over my poor choice of pseudonym,” he told The Atlantic today.

Cebulski first started pitching to comic book companies as Yoshida in 2003, when he was already an editor at Marvel and thus not allowed to write comics there. When another Marvel editor, unaware of his real identity saw “Yoshida’s” work on comics like Conan and asked him for pitches, Cebulski nonetheless accepted — in character.

He would go on to script several Marvel miniseries that included numerous Japanese characters and themes. Marvel…

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This Japanese dad totally owned his daughter’s boyfriend at video games

It’s a typical moment from a cartoon or sitcom — the dad meets his daughter’s boyfriend for the first time and promptly threatens bodily harm if his little princess isn’t taken care of. In this Japanese tweetstorm though, things take an unexpected and hilarious turn.

Twitter user @buppa_stone live tweeted meeting his daughter’s boyfriend in tweets that were then translated by SoraNews24 into English. The first tweet reads: “My daughter just introduced her boyfriend to us.” By the timing of the tweet, this presumably happened right after her daughter got home from the junior high school she attends.

After chatting with his daughter’s boyfriend, who buppa_stone refers to as “this punk kid,” he realizes that they both love playing Guilty…

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Japanese firm to send overworking employees home by nagging them with music-blaring office drones

Since World War II, Japan has struggled with a work culture that consists of excessive overtime. To curb that behavior, one firm is planning to use drones that fly around the office blasting Auld Lang Syne to get employees to realize it’s time to go home.

The system, developed by office security and cleaning firm Taisei and telecom giant NTT, will see drones patrolling the office on a scheduled flight path. The drones will also record footages of what they see during the flight to identify employees who remain in the office after standard work hours.

“You can’t really work when you think ‘it’s coming over any time now,’” Taisei director Norihiro Kato told The Japan Times. Auld Lang Syne is typically played in Japanese malls to announce…

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