Interview with ASKA3D's investor, Makoto Otsubo

1st Chapter: 〜The Sparkle of Beginnings〜 Part1
Interview with ASKA3D's investor, Makoto Otsubo

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction “What is ASKA3D plate?”
2. “The era of sensing technology development at a steelworks & the excitement of 3D imaging"

1. Introduction “What is ASKA3D plate?”

Please introduce yourself.
My name is Makoto Otsubo. I was born on October 23rd 1955 and I am 67 years old now (note: as of the interview in 2023) I am from Goto City, Nagasaki Prefecture.

I studied electrical engineering at university, and after graduating, I worked in steel engineering technology at a company affiliated with a major steel manufacturer. Afterwards, through sensor development in high-temperature environments and technical research and development assistance work at the Industrial Technology Research Institute of a steelworks, I became interested in three-dimensional images.


What is ASKA3D developed by you?

It is a transparent "thin panel-shaped optical device" that has a special function that makes the subject appear to be floating above the panel at the same distance from the subject when the subject is placed below. The size varies, but it is shaped like a single plate.

Everything in this world diffuses light. We perceive it with both eyes and perceive the image reflected on our retinas as a three-dimensional image in our brain. It can be said to be a world of diffused light that continues to spread forever from a single point. An element that transmits various diffused light rays by refraction and reflection is called an optical device.

Typical optical devices include lenses such as convex lenses, concave lenses, and Fresnel lenses.This ASKA3D is also a very special optical device, and its complexity differs from ordinary optical devices in that it is a panel in which many microscopic reflective mirrors are arranged vertically in a strip-like manner inside a transparent medium.

Does ASKA3D also use light refraction and reflection to cause the phenomena?

No, that's not true. ASKA3D is a device that specializes in converging light spread from a single point by reflection.

From the beginning, we invented it with the idea of ​​using only reflection, without using refraction. When I thought about the purpose of floating an image in the air, I could imagine that color (wavelength) aberrations caused by differences in the refractive index of light would become a problem later on, so I only used reflection.

I think Newton also understood the mechanism of refraction, so he invented a reflecting telescope that does not use refraction.

"Unique technology: Awarded the Runner-Up Grand Prize in the Key Technology Category at CEATEC AWARD2013."

2. “The era of sensing technology development at a steelworks & the excitement of 3D imaging"

Please tell us how you became interested in 3D imaging.

The first time was around 1994. I became interested in 3D images while working in steel engineering.

I was developing sensors and sensing technology, but the sensors used in steel plants need to function in an extremely high temperature environment of over 1,000 degrees celsius, and they cannot be made without knowledge of electrical engineering.

At the time, we were working on three-dimensional information imaging technology to sense a steel plate moving at high speed which is exposed to high temperatures.

It is necessary to measure the wave shape of the plate in the form of physical and dimensional information in units of 1/100th of a second and feed it back to the control system equipment in real time.

At that time, I was using software that displayed the data in 3D, scanned by sensors, but when I saw a parallel projection of the plate shape drawn on a plotter and printed out, I realized how interesting 3D was.

In the field of 3D imaging, the common method at the time was binocular parallax, a method of showing 3D images in the brain by taking in different information to both eyes, such as by wearing glasses or using red anaglyphs.This is different from the world of natural diffused light, so your brain gets confused and your eyes get tired.

From this, I had a hunch that a display principle similar to natural vision would be the ultimate 3D imaging technology. If you are regenerating diffused light similar to natural light from the beginning, there is no need to calculate for two eyes.

The only similar technology available at the time was holograms. Gabor, who developed this special method that uses interference fringes recorded by overlapping the object beam obtained by shining a laser beam onto an object and the original laser beam, won a Nobel Prize. However, it has not yet been put into practical use as a hologram TV. Industrialization of holograms was difficult because recording media and laser light with extremely high-resolution were required,  and television production required a huge amount of information. At that time, it was being studied all over the world.

I was always thinking about how I could easily create 3D images like holograms. Meanwhile, I was looking out the window from the Shinkansen(bullet train) I was riding on a business trip, and the first idea was born.

The rest of this article will be distributed in next week's newsletter.

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