Japan marked the first anniversary of the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters this week, and over the past year Japanese companies have been working on technology for use in similar emergencies.
One thing that struck me when I was in Tokyo after the quake was the darkened streets and vending machines, which had been dimmed amid electricity shortages. Up north in the tsunami-hit areas of Tohoku, I saw many vending machines that weren't working because entire neighborhoods had no power.
Vending machine maker Sanden, which has some 30 percent of the global market, has been showing off a hand-cranked vending machine for emergencies when the power's out and solar generation isn't available or feasible. … Read more