JAPAN - The government has decided to speed up the development of cutting-edge technologies by about 10 years to put them to practical use before the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo with the aim of demonstrating Japan's leadership in science and technology.
Among the 500 such technologies currently on the candidate list are a weather forecasting system to detect heavy rain, tornadoes and other adverse weather conditions an hour in advance to allow Olympic spectators to evacuate, and prosthetic limbs with sensory functions to improve the lives of the physically handicapped.
Experts say that the current levels of technology make it difficult to accurately predict foul weather and natural disasters. However, the government said that if technologies currently under study are improved, such as a supercomputer to analyse data collected by irradiating the sky with laser beams, it will become possible to forecast major rainstorms and other phenomena within any given 100-meter-square area an hour before they occur.
If such an advanced forecast system is put to practical use, the retractable roof of the planned new National Stadium in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, the main venue of the 2020 Olympics, could be closed before a severe rainstorm reaches the area. It could even be used at outdoor Olympic venues without roofs to help an international group of spectators evacuate before adverse weather strikes by displaying warnings in multiple languages on an LCD signboard on-site and sending alerts to individual mobile phones.
Moreover, the government plans to accelerate development of prosthetic limbs with simulated touch features that transmit sensory information and temperature to the brain based on a small, lightweight device equipped with a battery and sensor to read electronic signals. Such prosthetic limbs will assist the rehabilitation and mobility of the handicapped.
Such advances will not only make lives of Paralympic athletes more convenient, but also help doctors treat patients in remote locations.