Expo Brings High - Tech Devices For The Disabled To Trendy Shibuya

Expo brings high-tech devices for the disabled to trendy ShibuyaA trade fair showcasing the coolest cutting-edge technology to assist people with disabilities got under way in Tokyo’s hip Shibuya district on Nov. 10.
Some of the high-tech hardware on display at the Super Welfare Expo include a device that assists speech and vision; a four-wheel drive electric wheelchair with increased mobility due to front wheels equipped with specially designed tires made up of 24 segments; and prosthetic arms that can be operated at will by sensing the user's myoelectricity.

Twenty-seven companies, organizations and universities are participating. Being held ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, the event was organized by the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization People Design Institute.

“Competition will take place in the technology industry to assist disabled people, and companies will more actively seek commercialization of such products if the market expands through the development of demand," said Shinji Sudo, the 52-year-old head of People Design Institute. "It will become an important industry as Japan becomes a 'hyper-aging' society."

The expo envisions a world where the advancement of technology and social attitudes will result in a future in which physical disabilities will no longer be perceived as a setback. Shibuya was chosen, as its role as the nation’s epicenter of trends and fashion made it the perfect venue for the expo.

Visitors attending the event can try out some of the products on display. Attendees were seen on the opening day of the event zipping around on collapsible mobility scooters during trial runs.

Clothing retailer Ships and outdoor gear shop Mont-bell have also set up special display windows in their Shibuya branch stores. They are showing off mobility scooters together with the hottest fashion items to emphasize the hip and fashionable side of technology to assist people with disabilities.

The expo, which runs through Nov. 16, is being held at the Shibuya Hikarie retail complex in front of Shibuya Station, and will also offer daily symposiums on welfare, technology and diversity. Admission is free.