Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 340, January 1998

Issue Index

 American Companies in Japan


PRECISION AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

A pair of American companies sees a market in Japan for state-of-the-art security technologies. DNA TECHNOLOGIES, INC. will introduce its two lines of defense against counterfeiters and pirates — complex coding of varying security levels and genetic markers — in the spring. The Los Angeles firm's patented DNA Matrix Process uses invisible markers that contain sufficient information to uniquely identify a product. DNA-encoded genetic markers provide a second, virtually impenetrable, line of protection. This powerful object authenticating technology is designed for such things as aircraft parts, banknotes, stock certificates, autographs and other collectables. DNA Technologies already has had indications of interest from I.H.M. CO., LTD., NICHIMEN CORP. and OMRON CORP. about investing in the local operation that it plans to set up.

Meanwhile, DIGITAL PERSONA INC. teamed up with OMROM CORP. to bring to Japan its replacement for conventional password-based authorization for computer log-on. With the compact, lightweight U.are.U fingerprint verification unit, all a computer user has to do is place his or her finger in the unit; the fingerprint recognition process is automatic. Redwood City, California-based Digital Persona believes that fingerprint identification-based validation will become increasingly important as electronic commerce spreads since this technology employs bio-information distinctive to each person and, accordingly, is extremely difficult to counterfeit. U.are.U will be available through Omron in the spring for about $155.

Sometime in the first quarter of 1998, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. will launch a hand- held smart card reader/writer that brings the convenience of a traditional bank automatic teller machine directly to the consumer. Developed by VERIFONE, INC., now a HP subsidiary, the Personal ATM works with the Santa Clara, California company's VeriSmart client-server system to allow consumers to connect with their bank account via any standard telephone line and download electronic cash. The VeriSmart system, which provides a direct connection between financial institutions, merchants or other service providers and their customers, also allows consumers to access a range of other personal services anytime, anywhere.

The top American systems integrator of process analyzers is teaming up with an affiliate of Japan's biggest maker of process analyzers to offer maintenance services for imported analyzers. TECHNICAL AUTOMATION SERVICES CORP. of Seabrook, Texas will own 40 percent of ANALYZER EXPERT CORP., to be formed March 1 with YOKOGAWA ENGINEERING SERVICE CORP., which specializes in servicing equipment made by YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. The new company is projecting $1.5 million worth of business in FY 1998 and $7.7 million in the year 2000 by drawing on TASC's SI technology and Yokogawa Engineering's sales and service network.

Shirley, Massachusetts-based CAMBRIDGE ACCUSENCE, INC. added the portable, real-time Quattro Flow air velocity and air temperature analyzer to the air flow and temperature monitoring systems it sells through TMI ASSOCIATES of Yamanashi prefecture. The system, which is density-compensated for air velocity readings at higher elevations, provides simultaneous, multipoint measurements through up to four sensors. The unit itself is priced at $2,400, while the sensors cost $260 each. Given the Quattro Flow's cost-effectiveness, TMI thinks that it can sell 100 units a year.

Manufacturers of thin films have a new flash evaporator available. COVA TECHNOLOGIES, INC.'s product uses liquid precursors to deliver a vapor into a CVD reactor that contains the necessary elements for the production of complex oxide thin films. The Blacks-burg, Virginia company claims that its flash evaporator has a higher deposition rate and a wider range of flow rates than competing equipment and that it evaporates a variety of materials without clogging the evaporation module and the delivery lines, a common problem with other products. COVA gave ESJ CO., LTD. of Osaka exclusive rights to sell the $30,800 system in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

A GERBER SYSTEMS CORP. MaskWrite 1550 direct-write laser imager is in use at the Hokuriku Center in Komatsu, Ishikawa prefecture. TOKYO PROCESS SERVICE CO., LTD. arranged the sale through Gerber Systems' main distributor, STELLA CORP. The MaskWrite is a 43-inch by 61-inch flatbed laser system capable of high- resolution, direct-write imaging on silver halide-coated glass plates and resist-coated chrome-on-glass plates. It is used to make microlithography photomasks for such products as lead frames, shadow masks, color filters, LCDs and plasma displays. The Hokuriku Center, a demonstration site, expects to sell 500 photomasks in the first year.

All of Japan's medical claims forms soon will be processed by high-speed image and data-capture equipment from SCAN-OPTICS, INC. The Manchester, Connecticut company already supplies systems to the organization that handles 60 percent of the country's forms. Now it is in the process of shipping equipment to the company that processes the balance of the claims. This system is based on Scan-Optics' Series 9000 Medical Claims Processing Solution. OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. helped to adapt it. The company's longtime distributor is TOYO OFFICEMATION, INC., a MITSUI & CO., LTD. affiliate.

The silicone-based balloon catheter line of products made by AMERICAN BIOMED, INC. of Woodlands, Texas will be available in Japan through an exclusive, multiyear distribution agreement with K'S PROJECT. That trading company, which specializes in medical products and has offices in San Francisco and Tokyo, will be responsible for obtaining regulatory approvals. The all-silicone design of American BioMed's balloon catheters has several pluses. One is that it negates the potential risk of an allergic reaction from the latex balloons often used in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has cleared for marketing COHERENT, INC.'s Selecta 7000 laser system for selective laser trabeculoplasty. This new technique for the treatment of glaucoma is designed to lower intraocular pressure without damaging the structure of the eye. It avoids the possible side effects of drugs used to treat excessive pressure in the eye as well as the risks associated with more invasive surgical procedures for glaucoma. Japan is the Santa Clara, California company's largest market outside the United States for medical lasers.

An exchange rate of ¥130=$1.00 was used in this report.
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