Tokyo Tech News

DLab Dialog Day Spring 2021 brings together over 130 participants


Published: May 26, 2021

The Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation in Global Networks (DLab) hosted its inaugural DLab Dialog Day on March 6, bringing together over 130 Tokyo Tech students, faculty, staff, and members of the public to discuss a better future together.

DLab Dialog Day

Established in 2018, DLab has been uniting the broader community for over two years through various events and workshops. It launched its image of future society(External site) and the Tokyo Tech Future Chronology(External site) in January 2020, and has continued to connect online during the COVID-19 era. DLab Dialog Day Spring 2021 was also held in a virtual environment.

To kick things off, Tokyo Tech President Kazuya Masu introduced the activities of DLab, encouraging participants to enjoy the day's conversations. DLab Director Isao Satoh also spoke about the goals of the platform, while Associate Director Naoto Ohtake, concurrently associate director-general at the Institute of Innovative Research, provided more details on the Transchallenge* concept, the current components of the Tokyo Tech Future Chronology, and DLab's achievements in academic year 2020.

Novel ideas from student groups

DLab activities are characterized by group work and open discussion among participants of different age groups both inside and outside Tokyo Tech. Student participation continues to gain momentum. Introduction to the Design of Future Society(External site), a 1st-year course that links DLab activities with Tokyo Tech's educational offerings, encourages students to envisage an ideal society in 2050 while giving due consideration to societal issues and the progress of science and technology. Three groups from the academic year 2020 course presented their ideas to other participants during DLab Dialog Day. The presentations were as follows.

  • Memory & memory: Digitizing our memories, wirelessly downloading and uploading memories, and sharing our five senses by connecting to the nervous system
  • Transmitting scents to society: Sharing scents through electrical stimulation in spectacles- or contact lens-type devices, enriching life with augmented reality devices
  • Retina projection technology: Enhancing the medical field and life with technology that projects camera images directly onto the retina

Latest thoughts from leading researchers

The second part of the event allowed participants to hear from some of Tokyo Tech's leading researchers. Since May 2020, DLab has interviewed 47 experts from a wide range of fields in its Stay Home, Stay Geek — DLab connects during COVID-19 online interview series. During DLab Dialog Day, Associate Professor Asa Ito, the head interviewer, offered a brief explanation of the project and showed an omnibus of highlights collected from the interviews.

A brief panel discussion involving past interviewees followed. The participants reflected on the COVID-19 era and their interviews, discussed the needs and challenges of creating new encounters in a remote environment, acknowledged the inspiration that is born when unique characters from different fields connect.

GEEK circle panel discussion (clockwise from top left): Ito, Prof. Tamio Nakano, Assoc. Prof. Ryo Murata, Asst. Prof. Takumi Ohashi
GEEK circle panel discussion (clockwise from top left): Ito, Prof. Tamio Nakano, Assoc. Prof. Ryo Murata, Asst. Prof. Takumi Ohashi

GEEK circle panel discussion (clockwise from top left): Ito, Nakano, Lecturer Yoshimi Takuwa, VP for Research Development Kaoru Kuwata
GEEK circle panel discussion (clockwise from top left): Ito, Nakano, Lecturer Yoshimi Takuwa, VP for Research Development Kaoru Kuwata

Presentations by DLab Challenge research grant recipients

In academic year 2020, the DLab Challenge research grant was launched to support research connected to the realization of DLab's future image and future scenarios, and research that contributes to the creation of new disciplines required to realize this image. Part three of DLab Dialog Day was reserved for presentations by the principal investigators of the four research teams who received the inaugural grant.

Research topic
Principal investigator
Brief description
Creation of Real-time Superimposed Projection of Machine Vision Images onto the Real World: Transcending the Limitations of Human Perception and Contributing to the Creation of a Future Society
Assoc. Prof. Yoshiro Watanabe
This research aims to expand the possibilities of human vision by integrating unique camera functions and visualization technology, creating useful applications for industry and society as a whole.
The Quest and Realization of Remote Control Robotic Systems Achieving Working at Home for Essential Workers
Assoc. Prof. Gen Endo
This research aims to develop a remotely controlled robot and related control technology so physical work in particular can be made remote.
Exoskeleton for the Mind (Elemi): Augmenting Metacognition with AI
Assoc. Prof. Katie Seaborn
With the rapid increase of infodemics, this research aims to create an AI-based intelligent support system that supports people living in an information society.
Development of Isotopomic Diagnostics
Assoc. Prof. Keita Yamada
This research aims to create new metabolic analysis methods for blood sugar level measurements, etc. by applying isotopomic analysis to metabolic molecules.

Seeds for Future Research, a presentation led by P.I. Gen Endo
Seeds for Future Research, a presentation led by P.I. Gen Endo

Acting as commentators and judges during the presentations were DLab members Junko Morino, deputy director at Trail Inc., and Professor Noriyuki Ueda, dean of the Institute for Liberal Arts. In addition to questions on the range of application and interfaces by Morino and Ueda, real-time questions also came in from other participants via an online platform.

Transcending organizational boundaries with DLab Partners

DLab aims to unite people from all fronts of society, and businesses and organizations play an important role in the conversation. Academic year 2020 also saw the inaugural gathering of DLab Partners, a group of companies that joined the platform as corporate members. The final session of DLab Dialog Day consisted of an introduction of DLab Partner activities and a panel discussion involving partner representatives.

During this session, representatives from three of the seven DLab Partners — Asahi Kasei Corporation, NEC Corporation, and Mazda Motor Corporation — explained their visions for the future and their reasons for joining the platform. DLab Team Create member Hajime Nitta, head of the Research Development Section at Tokyo Tech's Office of Research and Innovation, also introduced the content and results of the five online workshops held thus far for DLab Partners. The session ended with a panel discussion joined by DLab members from the Tokyo Tech side. DLab Partner members commented that they had been exposed to a broad range of knowledge available at Tokyo Tech, and were pleased to be able to exchange opinions across organizational boundaries.

Introduction of DLab Partner activities

Introduction of DLab Partner activities

DLab Dialog Day Spring 2021, the first online DLab event open to the entire public, ended in a peaceful atmosphere. Many participants expressed satisfaction afterwards. Some saw the event as a stimulating opportunity to think about a better tomorrow, while others said they empathized with DLab's approach to create a "future we all want."

* Transchallenge, or transcending limits, embracing challenges

In a "transchallenge" world, limits traditionally associated with geography, physical ability, and other factors do not exist. Irrespective of who or where you are, science and technology offers everyone the opportunity to take on any challenge confidently. Innovations in virtual and augmented reality make co-experiences involving any or all of the five senses a natural part of life. Climbing the world's highest peaks at any age, empathizing with the emotions of other humans, animals, and plants, and other limitless possibilities expand our minds and better prepare us for future uncertainties. Those who are held back against their will by psychological obstacles can simply uninstall any unwanted experiences or memories. Science and technology, which has always advanced humanity, has become a driving force of the future. Some may be discouraged by the potential of failure, but in a "transchallenge" world, no efforts are in vain. There are no meaningless experiences. All actions and results are acknowledged and applied by those around us to create new value and build a better, brighter future.

Research Center for DEsigning Social Innovation in Global Network

Designing our future together
By gauging the needs and desires of society through dialogue, and by designing our future together, DLab aims to create a brighter, more prosperous world.

Research Center for DEsigning Social Innovation in Global Networkouter


Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation for Global Networks