Conventional “mono-zukuri (making things — manufacturing)” has been based on the concept of mass-production; making things more efficiently and at lower cost. However, in the society of the 21st century, which is saturated with things, we are sometimes posed with this simple question: Has “mono-zukuri” made people happy? We are facing many problems, such as globalization and fierce competition based on market principles, which are thought to be partly responsible for the increasing number of cases of depression and the 30 thousand people who commit suicide every year. It is clear that the material innovation we have enjoyed since the Industrial Revolution is reaching its limits. The “Center of KANSEI Innovation Nurturing Mental Wealth (hereafter referred to as the “KANSEI COI Base”)(*1)” seeks the realization of a “rich society” where things and emotions are in harmony, which is a paradigm shift from the conventional “materially enriched” society to an “emotionally enriched” society where emotional values develop.
For the purpose of realizing an “emotionally enriched” society, the KANSEI COI Base targets the development of a Brain-Emotion Interface (BEI) that connects people to people, and people to things with KANSEI (emotions) by applying the latest neuroscience. It is expected that the BEI technology will visualize and quantify feelings such as “wonder,” “liveliness,” and “beauty,” which have been thought to be difficult to evaluate objectively. The technology will enable the provision of products and services that satisfy personal senses and needs, which will revolutionize society in the areas of food, clothing, and lifestyle, mobility, education, and medical care.
Examples of BEI application include clothing that fits a person’s sense of style, a restaurant that serves meals customized to the tastes of each customer that cannot be expressed in words, housing and shops that are comfortable to live in and visit. It will also be possible to develop a car that is fun to drive by changing the colors of the interior according to the driver’s mood of the day, and by providing operability that matches the style of driving. In addition, BEI technology will contribute to creating innovative solutions in education and medicine such as visualizing the mental state of children to improve learning, analyzing the brain function of depression patients to make objective diagnoses, new treatment that introduces a BEI to provide neuro feedback for monitoring the state of the brain, and preventing mental stress by self-control.
The KANSEI COI Base, which is organized around Hiroshima University and Mazda, has satellite bases including the group of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences and NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting that are famous for perception research (National Institute for Physiological Sciences COI-S Base), and the group of Shizuoka University and Hamamatsu Photonics that are specialized in optical technology (Optical Technology Development COI-S Base). It is a unique organization that consists of a total of more than 20 universities, research institutes, and companies. Around the brain and sensory research by Hiroshima University, the superior perception research by National Institute for Physiological Sciences and the advanced optical technology from the Optical Technology Development COI-S Base are combined to develop innovative BEIs. In addition, BEI application development based on corporate networks such as the KANSEI Consortium including Mazda Motor, Kobelco Construction Machinery, Andersen Group, Mitsubishi Rayon, TOTO, Toppan Printing, Sapporo Holdings, and the Consortium for Applied Neuroscience at NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting, pursues social implementation of the BEI technology. Their research and development also look toward converting the BEI technology into new businesses. All participating organizations are working hard for the development and social implementation of BEIs, and are committed to creating innovation of KANSEI for realizing a “mentally enriched society.”
*1. COI STREAM (Center of Innovation Science and Technology based Radical Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program) by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology started in fiscal 2013
- Project leader at the Center of KANSEI Innovation Nurturing Mental Wealth
- Technical Manager, Technical Research Center, Mazda Motor Corporation
- Research leader
MD, Ph.D Distinguished Prof., Hiroshima Univ.