Breaking the Wall of Pitch Perception 

“One good thing about music is…
…when it hits you, you feel no pain.” 

Kai Wang
1st place winner, 2015 Falling Walls Lab Sendai


2015 marked the second year of the Falling Walls Lab Sendai (FWLS), where IDAC showed a strong and undeniable presence with 6 members from the institute out of 24 total participants. In order of appearance, the IDAC members were: Hitomi KAWATA, Kai WANG, Takuji SUZUKI, Atsushi KUBO, Tetsuya KAGEYAMA, and Shohei YAMAZAKI.

The FWLS was not only a unique opportunity to present their breakthrough research ideas and initiatives, but it also gave them a chance to network with other participants from all over Japan, making new and long-lasting connections. On the other end of the spectrum were 7 Judges from Academic and Business backgrounds, who gave their final verdict after an hour long evaluation… and… the ultimate decision for the most breakthrough idea was:

BREAKING THE WALL OF PITCH PERCEPTION. IDAC’s very own Kai WANG was awarded 1st place after a fierce battle with 23 other contestants who had equally impressive and innovative ideas, covering everything from “Complex Financial Networks” to the “Mystery of Relaxor Ferroelectricity”. In the end, Kai’s breakthrough idea “to use pitch perception to personalize and improve acoustic instruments such as hearing aids and brand new audio systems, because everyone has different pitch sensitivities”, ultimately won over the FWLS judges. So, how did he come up with this idea? According to Kai, “since I was young, I’ve always been interested in music and sounds; and at that time, my favorite hobby was repairing tape recorders… which eventually led me on a path to study pitch perception”.

WE HEAR YOU LOUD AND CLEAR, Kai! …and so did the judges!

Presenting Kai with his much deserved 1st place award was none other than Tohoku University President, Dr. Susumu Satomi. This award is no ordinary prize; it symbolizes one’s persistent and arduous work towards a breakthrough idea that only a select few have ever claimed before.

As one of the three winners of the FWLS, Kai will have the opportunity of a life-time to present his revolutionary idea to the entire world from Germany this coming November 8/9th at the Falling Walls Conference. When asked about how he felt in regards to winning 1st place, Kai wholeheartedly said “this was a total shock to me and I’m very honored to win this year; it means a lot to me and I want to thank everyone at IDAC for their support, especially Dr. Kawashima for helping me achieve my goals”.

As a matter of fact, Kai will not only be representing IDAC at the Falling Walls Finale in Berlin, but he will also be representing Tohoku University, Japan and China! Congratulations Kai and enjoy your trip to Berlin, Germany! We will all be cheering for you!

“Auf Wiedersehen und gute Reise!”