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RCA–IIS Tokyo Design Lab Announces New Industry Partnerships

As the next stage of development of the RCA–IIS Tokyo Design Lab – a partnership between the Royal College of Art (RCA) and University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science (IIS) – IIS has recruited four companies to be founding members of the University of Tokyo Design-Led X (DLX) Lab.

Established in January 2017, the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab brings together designers, scientists and engineers to develop meaningful and deployable innovations in an ongoing, collaborative research space at the intersection of science, engineering and design. The DLX Lab will work in close collaboration with the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab, to expand activities by strengthening cooperation with domestic and overseas companies and academia.

The DLX Lab will focus on innovation through the fusion of design and engineering, to develop compelling public-facing product and service propositions. The founding members of the DLX Lab are:

  • Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd, an international automotive parts manufacturer that is expanding into energy and lifestyle sectors.
  • Kozo Keikaku Engineering Inc. a professional design & engineering firm providing engineering consulting and product services.
  • Hakuhodo Inc.  a media and marketing services agency who have invested in global design company IDEO through their California based Kyu Unit.
  • Fujifilm Corporation a global imaging and IT company, working in the contexts of healthcare, graphic arts, optical devices and hi-tech materials.

The involvement of these diverse global businesses from a range of sectors will offer RCA researchers at the RCA–IIS Tokyo Design Lab the opportunity to work on projects that include these leading industry members as key stakeholders to help develop the DLX Lab to its full potential.

Projects that the Design Lab has worked on to date include Chemical Synchronisation, a collaboration with Takeuchi Lab that looks at the way that plants, animals and insects communicate through chemical signals. This project proposed a speculative biological wearable device that uses a sensor made with chemoreceptors extracted from insects that can detect emotions through chemicals found in human sweat. These emotions can then be filtered and amplified, and eventually transferred to other humans through a microneedle patch that delivers hormones like oxytocin and endorphins.

Another project, Transparent Intent, a collaboration with Y Sato Lab, considered the boundaries between the physical and the digital, predicting a future where objects can be controlled subconsciously. Using computer vision technology, the team have designed a set of interfaces that demonstrate this future evolution, from objects that can be controlled with a gaze or a gesture, to a scenario where objects are clairvoyant and control themselves based on human behaviour. This project is also going to be exhibited at the ARS Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria 7-11 September where this year’s theme is Artificial Intelligence.