Don’t you just hate heading to a bar or café, only to find every seat in the place taken? What if you could get an update to your phone to let you know how many seats were currently available at your destination?
This is particular the case in Japan and Tokyo, where many drinkeries and eateries are on the small size. It is common to wait for a seat in almost any major place in Shibuya or Shinjuku, though usually the staff provide you with a chair to sit on outside where you can browse the menu.
Enter the Smart Zabuton, a new type of system developed by Key Value that works with smartphones and tablets to send out a signal if the cushion is currently being occupied — that is, someone is sitting on it. (A zabuton is a traditional Japanese floor cushion, though here the target is more like a regular thin cushion that you place on a stool or chair.) Key Value expects to retail the Smart Zabuton at between ¥1,200 and ¥2,000 and sell both to individuals and corporations.
You can then check on your phone how many seats are free and which ones (i.e. you can see if there are two or three seats available together), and even how long the seat cushion has been occupied for — which would serve as a rough indicator for how long you’d have to wait until it became free.
This is surely not the first example of technology like this but we like it nonetheless. Since it only measures if someone is on the cushion there are no concerns about personal information being usurped by café owners or other users. The Smart Zabuton is compatible with Apple’s iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy system and iOS 7, though the makers hope to expand this to Android in the future.
The Smart Zabuton could also work as part of a digital life log for an individual. If you are concerned with how much time you spend sitting down, then the Smart Zabuton could help you record and monitor this at various places (home, office, even on the train). Just take it around with you (or have more than one) and keep an eye on your phone’s app data.