Photo of Yoichi Ochiai

Computer & electronics hardware

Yoichi Ochiai

A visionary for the advent of "Digital Nature". His creative work as a media artist is also highly regarded.
Mika Ninagawa

Year Honored

Pixie Dust Technologies , University of Tsukuba


Yoichi Ochiai, associate professor at the University of Tsukuba and president of Pixie Dust Technologies, works on the research and development of spatial audio-visual haptic technology to present his vision of digital nature, a term which refers to technological environments in which computers and nature come together.

Digital Nature is a novel natural environment reconstructed by blending computer and non-computer resources. It is a new type of nature, removed from prior constructs, that connects people, objects, nature, computers, and data. With the goal of making digital nature a reality, and rethinking culture in digital nature, Ochiai is exploring interdisciplinary fields, spanning computer science, physics, biology, wave engineering, materials science, interaction, usability, artistic expression, and design, and implementing them in society through entrepreneurship.

His research involves tactile and spatial interactions, and has resulted in the creation of a material rendering method that utilizes computer holograms. This has led to a great deal of research. For example, his three-dimensional acoustic levitation technology, the subject of his doctoral studies at the University of Tokyo, uses ultrasonic waves emitted by several speaker arrays to levitate small objects and move them in any direction. It emits a grid of ultrasonic waves, and the sound waves are amplified at a focal point to produce pressure. This could be applied to testing ultra-pure drugs among other things.

At Pixie Dust Technologies, he acts as company president to conduct businesses to build software platforms to create symbiosis between humans and computers, and to promote open innovation with local governments and businesses. At the CREST xDiversity (cross-diversity) project, a research project by the governmental organization Japan Science and Technology Agency, he researches applications in accessibility.  At the general incorporated association xDiversity, which he founded, he is also undertaking promotional activities to engage the public. His creative work as a media artist is also highly regarded for bridging the border between art and engineering, and the unique perspective it provides.