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Graduated from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tokyo in 1982. Worked for Nissan Motor Design Center before going freelance in 1987. After working as an associate professor of the University of Tokyo 1991 through '94, he established his own design company, Leading Edge Design, in 1994. Was appointed professor at Keio University in April 2008. While designing industrial products such as cameras, watches, automobiles and furniture, Yamanaka has been pursuing research and development in robotics, informatics and other scientific fields. Thanks to his extensive research into responses to shapes of ticket gates, he became a key figure in developing and implementing JR East's "Suica" automatic ticket gate system. Won a Gold Prize at the Good Design Award 2006 for the "OXO daikon grater", and a Good Design Award for Ecology Design in the New Territory Design category for the "Aimulet" batteryless communication terminal.

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