Thousands look for next big thing at Japan's biggest electronic expo

Walking into Japan's biggest electronic expo is like entering a modern department store the size of a small suburb.

More than 2000 stalls - some as big as houses - span the more than 1km length of the Makuhari Messe, Tokyo's largest convention centre.

At 210,000 square metres, the centre is 200 times larger than Auckland's SkyCity convention centre.

It's perhaps not surprising that the electronics capital of the world - and a country with heated toilet seats in most of its hotel rooms - can fill such a vast space with up-and-coming gadgets. But it is still overwhelmingly impressive.

Brands that have already made it, and others that are hoping to, have paid top dollar to show off their products at the week-long expo.

By tonight, 200,000 people, from gadget geeks to entrepreneurs, will have walked through the venue for a glimpse of the gear to come over the next two decades.

People stand about talking, though Japanese is the language of electronics. The chitter chatter of pretty mannequin-like Japanese girls trying to attract spectators to their stalls sounds among the busy hum of products displays and demonstrations.

The most popular stalls are signalled by the floor shuffle of spectators queuing for a pair of glasses so they can check out what at least four household brands predict will be the next big craze - 3D TV. Japanese businessmen walk around the expo, or work away on laptops.

Other spectators are seated inside sampling 3D TV's other attractive feature - 3D video gaming. Some products here will be available within months. Others are at least 20 years away.

Source: NZ Herald