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Exhibitions - 08.17.2018 - 10.10.2018

Prototyping in Tokyo | A Visual Story of Design Led Innovation

Ready to Crawl | Photo by Yasushi Kato
Ready to Crawl | Photo by Yasushi Kato


Mon. - Sat.

10:00 AM - 8:00 PM


10:00 AM – 7:00 PM


JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2



“Prototyping in Tokyo” is an interactive exhibition introducing the advanced technologies utilized by Professor Shunji Yamanaka in his development of cutting-edge prototypes. The exhibition highlights the importance of prototypes as objects that link new technologies and society, offering a glimpse into possible future user experiences. Creations often only shared within the research community, present the public with a unique window into the dreams and creative trials of researchers, combining technology with intrinsic Japanese aesthetics, revealing remarkable beauty.

The work of Professor Yamanaka and his research team contextualizes the relationship between the artistry of Japanese craftsmanship and the science of prototyping technologies. Professor at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo, Yamanaka is responsible for the creation of innumerable, versatile innovations, from watches to automobiles. His recent research focuses on re-examining the relationships between humans and man-made objects through projects such as beautiful prosthetics and life-like robots, with an emphasis on designing to make people happy.

“Prototyping in Tokyo”, is a rare opportunity to interact with a variety of prototypes. The visitor experience will include discoveries linked to the growing potential for manufacturing made possible by 3D printers, advanced production processes and idea development archived through the presentation of picture rolls, recounting the stories of individual projects from their origin in messy prototypes, failures … and then finally, success.

The exhibition is divided into three areas of exploration, prototypes of structure and movement; projects which touch upon texture and tactile sensation; and developments in body extension. In total, seven projects will be exhibited which reinforce and combine Japanese aesthetic sense and simplicity with inspiration from nature and high technology. The objects created with tools developed in the Yamanaka Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, allow for greater realism and, in some cases, evoke bio-likeness, which at first glance may cause guests to mistakenly sense that they are interacting with a living creature, rather than an advanced technological innovation. Through these stories and objects, visitors and researchers will come together to envision the future that is being created and transmitted from Tokyo.

Included in the exhibition are prototypes that arouse curiosity with their intricate detail, in both shape and movement, such as the Ready to Crawl robot created through additive manufacturing (commonly known as 3D printing), where all parts are produced at the same time. The piece is effectually 'born' fully assembled, “ready to crawl” - except for the motor which enables its movement. All components from inner gears to the outer surface are created together – this process enables remarkably increased tactile and texture sensation. Visitors will be able to engage with a variety of these robots, each with a different mode of locomotion, exploring various forms of movement.

The exhibition also features the Rabbit Project, which is the study and perfection of a series of prosthetics designed specifically for competitive track athletes, pursuing a harmony between humans and artificial materials. The highly designed prosthetics were developed for Paralympic athlete Takakuwa Saki, who represented Japan during the London 2012 and Brazil 2016 Paralympics. Another highlight is the Apostroph Robot, created to study the movement of living organisms and explores one of the most fundamental aspects of life: the act of standing. With a segmented body made of multiple smoothly curved frames and joints containing motors programmed to resist external force, the Apostroph performs organic movements similar to those that humans use as we learn to stand, a clear expression of the universal search for a living organism to find balance.

“Prototyping in Tokyo” exemplifies the thought process which gives shape to inspiration emerging from new technologies, and is a validation of the potential effectiveness of ground-breaking applications. At the same time, this exhibition reveals that the prototype can be a showpiece that clearly relates the value of technology to culture, as a bridge to the future.

Skeletal Automation: Archer on a Boat

Skeletal Automation: Archer on a Boat | Photo by Yukio Shimizu 


Clockoid | Photo by Yusuke Nishibe 


Apostrph | Photo by Yasushi Kato

Rami: Additively Manufactured Running Specific Prosthetics

 Rami: Additively Manufactured Running Specific Prosthetics
Photo by Yasushi Kato

Gallery Photos


*To view the flipbook in full screen, please click on the "Fullscreen" icon on the lower right-hand corner from the window above.

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