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No. 359, August 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


PRECISION AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

Through periodic acquisitions, OYO CORP., Japan's leading geophysical research company, has built a broad presence in the U.S. markets for seismic instruments used in the search for oil and gas, earthquake-detection equipment, ground-probing radar and side-scan sonar equipment and in related products and services. The latest addition to the Oyo stable is QUANTERRA INC., a Harvard, Massachusetts designer and manufacturer of high-resolution, broadband seismic instrumentation for scientific research and government applications. The $4.5 million acquisition actually was handled by Pasadena, California-based KINEMETRICS INC. An Oyo company since 1991, it is a leader in the earthquake instrumentation business, designing products for monitoring bridges, dams, structures and seismic arrays and networks. Kinemetrics and Quanterra have worked together on several projects, including an ongoing one for the U.S. Air Force to design a system for nuclear treaty verification.

The retrenchment of Japanese-affiliated manufacturers from the U.S. semiconductor business and other onshore electronics operations has taken a toll on equipment suppliers, including makers of clean rooms and clean-air systems. The situation is so dire that two otherwise rivals in this field have decided to cooperate across the board on marketing. Starting in December, AIRTECH JAPAN, LTD., which has a production and sales subsidiary in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Exton, Pennsylvania-based AIRO CLEAN INC. will market each other's products through their own distribution channels even if the products compete head-to-head. In the past, each company occasionally sold some of the other's lineup but not directly competing products. The main Airtech Japan equipment that Airo Clean will market is a filtration unit for removing contaminants from the air.

A novel product that developer TECHNOS JAPAN CO., LTD. describes as improving the quality of life of the severely disabled is commercially available through the Himeji, Hyogo prefecture company's recently established Bailey, Colorado subsidiary. MCTOS, short for mind-controlled tool operating system, is a switch controlled by bioelectrical impulses measured at the forehead. These include brainwaves, electrical impulses from eye movement and muscle activity. The idea behind MCTOS is for the user to control his or her mind, whether quieting it or stimulating it. A computer training program comes with the $2,500 product to help buyers master this skill.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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