East Asian technological innovations have long outpaced those in the West. Products that sound like recent or even future innovations to most Westerners have been available for decades in Asia, particularly in Japan. These include:
· A handheld device that enables customers to order food and drinks from their karaoke room.
· A button attached to the table that customers push to alert a waitress.
· A slew of vending machines that sell everything you can imagine: alcohol, ramen, underwear, umbrellas, rice, newspapers, cell phones.
· Love hotels where guests can check in discreetly without interacting with other human beings.
Tourists visiting Japan for the first time often feel compelled to take a photo of the ubiquitous high-tech washlet toilets. These fixtures are hardly new; they have been on the market since 1980 and have more than 80 percent market penetration. Years before the Internet of Things became a phenomenon in the West, Japanese people were using their mobile phones to run their baths remotely while in a cab. They were also using a single card on their phones to buy groceries from a store, get green tea from a vending machine, and pay the fare for trains and buses.
Evidence from cross-national academic research suggests that the speed of innovation adoption has historically been significantly faster in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan than in the U.S. Aside from various market conditions and economic factors, why have Japanese people historically been more comfortable than Westerners with the new and the strange?
Stream or download the podcast here Digital Human: Series 18, Ep 1 – Animism