Daisuke Inoue could be a billionaire if he had only filed a patent for his invention three decades ago -- the karaoke machine, which has opened up the prospect of stardom, however fleeting, to millions of musical wannabes. \nInstead, the man whose creation has become a US$7.5 billion-a-year industry in Japan alone has designed gadgets to wash clothes and kill insects as he tries to put his finger on the next sensation. \nNow aged 64, Inoue said he came up with the device that would become a worldwide social lubricant when he was a fumbling keyboardist accompanying customers at a club in the western Japanese city of Kobe. \n"A driving force [for the invention] was my laziness as it was hard to master new songs one after another," Inoue told reporters in an interview. \nInoue, with a smooth deep voice, graying slicked-back hair and a ponytail, has never been able to read music even though he started earning money as a drummer when he was 16. \n"Accompanying tone-deaf singers was no problem. What was toughest for me was to remember by heart several new songs every month because I couldn't read music," said the inventor of karaoke. \nInoue first got the idea for a karaoke machine in 1971 after a club customer asked him to join him on a weekend company trip as he wanted to sing to Inoue's keyboard. Inoue could not skip work at the club, so he made a tape of instrumental music for him. \nLater that year, he invented the original karaoke machine, called "8 Juke," based on a car stereo and equipped with a microphone, amplifier and coin box that played music recorded on eight-track cartridge tapes. Inoue was 31 at the time. \nThe machine proved to be an instant hit. \nThough rival devices by firms such as Daiichikosho, now the top karaoke company, appeared within three years, Inoue saw 12 good years selling tape-based karaoke machines. \nHis company's fortune waned with emerging laser disc-based machines in the mid-1980s. He survived by turning the company from a karaoke machine maker to a trading firm. \n"I went to Daiichikosho with which we had been battling fiercely and asked them to let us handle their machines," Inoue said. \nHis company came to boast annual sales of ?10 billion (US$95 million). But the lifestyle proved too much for Inoue. \n"It was luxury-induced depression. I had been a salesman talking directly to customers but was suddenly given a monthly salary of ?3.5 million and no real job," he said. \n"I began to suffer head-aches and was unable to move to go to office," he said, recalling the months in the early 1990s he served as nominal "chairman" of the company. \nHe broke out of his depression by leaving the company, running around with his dogs and establishing an industry group to promote his invention, the All-Japan Karaoke Industrialist Association. \nHis latest invention is the "New Aqua Trio" pot which is purported to electrolyze water for washing laundry, cleaning dishes and even rinsing mouths without detergent or chemicals. \nCosting ?399,000 (US$3,800), the home-use pot is touted to bring about "a cleaning revolution." \nAnd this time, Inoue has wisely decided to patent the product, both in Japan and internationally.
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
INVEST IN TAIWAN: A metal components casting firm and the world’s largest maker of aluminum bicycle rims also obtained approvals to join the program Solar Applied Materials Technology Co (SOLAR, 光洋應用材料), a part of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) “green supply chain,” has pledged to invest NT$1 billion (US$34.1 million) to build a new plant at the Tainan Technology Industrial Park (台南科技工業區), the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. SOLAR has been collaborating with TSMC to extract precious metals from waste and reuse them as “sputtering target” material in high-end semiconductor manufacturing, a TSMC press release issued in May said. Established in 1978, SOLAR also offers key materials and integrated services to customers in the optoelectronics, information and communications technology, petrochemicals and consumer electronics industries,
‘SWARM TECH’: Joint venture FARobot is to develop autonomous mobile robots that would first be deployed in Hon Hai’s factories to optimize production efficiency Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and Adlink Technology Inc (凌華科技) have formed a robotic venture that aims to use “swarm technology” to create robots that can communicate with one another on the factory floor to optimize production efficiency. Hon Hai is Apple Inc’s leading iPhone assembler and the world’s largest contract electronics maker, while Adlink supplies industrial computers and Internet of Things solutions. Through a subsidiary, Hyield Venture Capital Co (鴻揚創投), Hon Hai holds a 51 percent stake in autonomous mobile robot (AMR) developer FARobot (法博智能移動), while Adlink owns the remaining 49 percent. Together, the two companies put up NT$200