Japan’s super “cute” robot vacuum cleaners

Written by: Japan Trends on May 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm | In COOL PRODUCTS | No Comments

Dyson, the UK vacuum cleaner brand, has chosen Japan to be the first market for its upcoming new robot vacuum cleaner, the Dyson 360 Eye. To get local consumers in the mood, it has opened a mini showroom in Omotesando. Japan is Dyson’s second-largest market, accounting for around 20% of overall sales, says Nikkei.

Japan’s vacuum sales rose 6% to 9.31 million units in 2014, with cordlesss, robot and stick designs very popular. All this means that robot vacuum cleaners are really big now in Japan, with most local electronics manufacturers producing a line, including Sharp’s Cocorobo and Toshiba’s Torneo.

While Dyson has gone for chic and other makers are pulling out all the technological stops (anti-allergen, anti-bacteria, talking, smartphone-controlled), some are content to opt for another tactic entirely. Making robot vacuum cleaners cute.

mopet vacuum robotic cleaner microfiber mop

The Mopet Microfiber Mop Robot Vacuum Cleaner is a new robotic cleaning gadget by CCP.

mopet vacuum robotic cleaner microfiber mop

Not only does this follow-up to the Mofa cleaning bot retain much the same functions, it also still has the flat, mop-like design. So what’s different? The Mopet has upped the cute ratio. It encourages you to customize and decorate your cleaner with the colorful stickers provided.

mopet vacuum robotic cleaner microfiber mop

In Japan, it used to be very popular to decorate your mobile phone with phone straps, stickers and more (until the iPhone arrived and everyone started being boring). Likewise, decorated nail art and customizable photo booths continue to evolve, sometimes even converging.

It’s far from the first time that we have seen this trend for “cute” (kawaii) robotic cleaners.

mocoro vacuum cleaner fur ball roll mop

The same makers previously gave us the Mocoro Robotic Fur Ball Vacuum Cleaner and the follow-up, the Mocoro Mop Ball CZ-564, a kind of fuzzball-style rolling cleaning gadget.

mocoro vacuum cleaner fur ball roll mop

The Auto Mee S reduced the scale but not the cuteness, cleaning the screen of your tablet or smartphone.

auto mee s robot cleaner smartphone tablet

Panasonic, meanwhile, developed the Fukitorimushi (“wiping cleaner”), a kimo-kawaii (creepy-cute) inchworm-style vacuum cleaner.

And then things enter the world of toys: the RC Sugoi Mop ostensibly helps you clean the house, but we suspect it’s more for fun.

rc sugoi mop remote control brush

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Thanko’s USB Heated Air Hug Pillow is inflatable warm dakimakura cushion

Written by: Japan Trends on January 29, 2015 at 8:34 am | In COOL PRODUCTS | No Comments

Thanko has come to the rescue of people who want to cuddle up to something (or someone) during the cold winter nights and feel heat from their hug buddy.

Enter the USB Heated Air Hug Pillow.

japan usb heated hug pillow thanko dakimakura

japan usb heated hug pillow thanko dakimakura

Hug pillows (dakimakura) are not the preserve of the otaku geek. There are plenty of pillows and cushions designed for ladies to snuggle up to at night with nothing sexual implied.

Take the recent Biblab Twintails Pillow, a hug cushion in the shape of pigtail bunches. Not only a unique shape, the twin cushions make it extremely practical.

twintails pig tail bunches cushion hug pillow bibilab

Now the USB Heated Air Hug Pillow has gone even more functional, while still keeping the quirky scale racked up to high.

japan usb heated hug pillow thanko dakimakura

This inflatable dakimakura provides USB-powered warmth of up to 36C (96.8F). Once filled with air (use a pump if you’re in a rush), the pillow has a length of around 145cm (4.8 ft).

japan usb heated hug pillow thanko dakimakura

Although Thanko only includes a plain cover, there’s nothing to stop you adding your favorite anime character cover to complete the experience. In fact, as the pictures show, Thanko is encouraging you to do this!

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Nico Nico Douga Self-Switching-Off Robot: A gloriously “useless” gadget

Written by: Japan Trends on January 20, 2015 at 8:31 am | In COOL PRODUCTS | No Comments

One of the top Japanese internet memes of the past few years finally becomes a real product.

The Nico Nico Douga Self-Switching-Off Robot was created by user Kairoshi as a video uploaded to his Nico Nico Douga channel. It is a “pointless” gadget: you flip the switch on top of the black box and then a hand appears to turn it back the other way. That’s it.

nico nico douga self switching off robot gadget japaanese

It apeared at the Nico Nico Gakkai Beta Symposium in 2013 and spawned many more videos like the one below.

Now this “useless” gadget that turns itself off has become an actual product so you can recreate the eternal battle of man versus machine.

It’s only been made in very limited numbers so don’t expect it to last very long.

Of course, the boffins among you will already know that Kairoshi’s gadget is a rift on the Ultimate Machine created by American mathematician Claude Shannon in the 1950’s. This plain box, conceived with Marvin Minsky, also switched itself off but otherwise did “nothing”.

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Thanko Thumb Extender for Phone Touchscreens saves you time with large mobile devices

Written by: Japan Trends on December 5, 2014 at 8:27 am | In COOL PRODUCTS | 1 Comment

Thanko are our favorite Japanese gadget makers, not least because their approach to the marketing is always so gleefully down-to-earth but also because they deliberately find everyday problems and seek out low-fi, cheap resolutions.

Here’s a case in point.

thanko thumb extender extension finger phone touchscreen

Don’t you just hate it when your fingers can’t get around the screen on your phone fast enough? Or when you need two hands for those recent phones with larger screens?

Enter the Thanko Thumb Extender for Phone Touchscreens.

thanko thumb extender extension finger phone touchscreen

This really is how it sounds — a slip-on “extender” for your thumb.

Our mobile devices have recently being getting bigger and our digital lives busier.

Thanks to the Thumb Extender, the extra few millimeters will leave you other hand free for staying steady during the morning commute.

thanko thumb extender extension finger phone touchscreen

There is a black tab on the underside of the thumb so you can click away on your screen as if the Thumb Extender is a genuine part of your digit.

If you’re worried about getting strange looks from people, don’t worry. The Thumb Extender looks like a real thumb so at a quick glance people may not even notice. Or at least, that’s the idea.

thanko thumb extender extension finger phone touchscreen
Check it out in action.

Thanko Thumb Extender for Phone Touchscreens is now available from JapanTrendShop.

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Check out these awesome au Unlimited Future Laboratory prototypes

Written by: William on December 2, 2014 at 9:04 am | In COOL PRODUCTS, NEW TECH | No Comments

The au Unlimited Future Laboratory is phone carrier KDDI’s experimental division for creating what could turn out to be the gadgets we all use in the future (or not, as the case may be).

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes

Here are some of the fruits of their research and development.

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes icrout

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes icrout music instrument

iCrout

The iCrout gives the nimble fingertips of a professional musician. You choose a track online and then install the performance data. Then put on the iCrout gloves and no matter you natural ability, the gadget will let you play to a high level. (It reminds us of the “face stimulation” experiments of Daito Manabe.) Following the logic, will there be any need for such a thing as genuine talent ever again?

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes happy coming

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes happy coming

Happy Coming

This is a kind of eye mask but it doesn’t just shut out light. Happy Coming is supposed to detect brain waves and heart beat frequency, and match these with appropriate music, illumination effects, and even aroma. All of this is designed to induce a better sleep session

Happy Coming gives you around 20 minutes of restful non-REM sleep, before encouraging you to wake up. In other words, an ideal daytime nap.

Not a commercial product yet but boy, do we want it to be one soon! Given the nuance of the English, though, they would have to change the name or there may be guys queuing up to purchase what they hope is a wet dream generator!

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes tsugi-ai

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes tsugi-ai

Tsugi-ai

With Tsugi-ai (Pour for Each Other) you can have a drink with someone who’s not physically there with you using your phone. In Japan it is polite to pour beer into the glass of your drinking partner. So the Tsugi-ai detects when the other person’s beverage runs low and then pours the drink can to give them a fill-up.

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes kokoro yoho mask

Kokoro Yoho Mask

Another mask here, the Kokoro Yoho Mask (Mind Forecast Mask) is an “office communication tool” that helps you read between the lines of what colleagues are saying or how they really feel. It visualizes the wearer’s feelings like weather forecast symbols on the outside of the mask.

kddi au unlimited future laboratory prototypes totsugeki zukyun

Totsugeki Zukyun

The Totsugeki Zukyun lets you show when you fall head over heels with someone passing by. We’ve all walked by the boy or girl who just makes your heart go aflutter. But not all of us are brave enough to say something to them. This device lets you communicate how you feel. The doors pop open and out bursts a “heart”, while at the same time it makes a cute noise and releases a pleasant aroma — and even sends a message from your phone.

Surely this will be a must-have for weddings or group dates.

Check other a.U.F.L. prototypes. That are lots more!

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Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sale of Japanese Gadgets and Lifestyle Items

Written by: Japan Trends on November 28, 2014 at 11:18 am | In COOL PRODUCTS | No Comments

JapanTrendShop is having a sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, offering 10% off on all items in its online catalog.

Just use the code blackfriday2014 or cybermonday2014 to claim a discount on your purchases.

So now there is no excuse for not getting yourself that latest gadget from Japan.

How about this one? The King Jim i-glaco Touchscreen Cleaner is a special pen-style cleaning agent that dispenses a protective coating over your phone or tablet to stop dirt accumulating.

king jim i glaco cleaning pen touchscreen phones

Another way to keep your life hygienic is with this Sharp Plasmacluster Ceiling-Mounted Ion Generator unit, which releases ions into the air to kill bacteria lingering in your bathroom.

sharp plasmacluster ceiling ion generator

Or perhaps you fancy some dog wine? Or the unusual-looking Hana Tsun Hyper D7 Nose Straightener, a nasal support beauty clip for helping sculpt your nose into a straighter shape?

hana tsun d7 nose straightener clip

Our favs are still ultimately the tech stuff, though, such as the Rolto iPhone Screen Printer by King Jim. So useful for recipes and other short lists!

king jim rolto iphone screen printer

And this is bound to be a hit with the younger members of the family over the holidays. The Omnibot Hello! MiP is a nifty two-wheeled robot from Takara Tomy dances and carries things for you.

omnibot hello mip two-wheel robot

There are also some awesome items on pre-order right now, such as the 3D Latte Art Maker Awa Taccino and the Hello Kitty Narikiri Face Pack.

Check out more of the latest arrivals at JapanTrendShop.

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Premium Cocorobo Imouto Version: Sharp’s moe “little sister” character robotic vacuum cleaner goes on sale

Written by: Japan Trends on November 7, 2014 at 2:58 pm | In COOL PRODUCTS | 1 Comment

After teasing us with the prototype back in the spring, Sharp has now made its moe version of the Cocorobo vacuum cleaner an actual product.

The Premium Cocorobo Imouto Version will only be available for online orders in November and December, with orders set to be delivered in mid-January. However, if it proves popular, we expect at the least the electronic stores in Akihabara will be carrying this “little sister” model of the cleaner.

Sharp’s Cocorobo is a successful robotic vacuum cleaner series that can talk to you. Add a cute female anime character (“Cocorobo-chan”) and a suitably moe “sister” voice and you have the concept for this Akiba-flavored version.

sharp cocorobo imouto premium vacuum cleaner robot anime moe character otaku talking akihabara

The Premium Cocorobo Imouto Version is voiced by the 16-year-old actress Ibuki Kido and with illustrations and character design by mangaka Kinusa Shimotsuki. It (she?) can tell you the weather and also greets you with a “Good morning, darling”, and even talks to you about famous regional spots around Japan. Since the voice actress hails from Aomori, Cocorobo-chan even switches into local dialect sometimes.

Sharp debuted the female robot in March and wanted 11 people to test it at home. They got over 1,200 applicants for the trial in just a week, so we can assume they are confident that mass production is going to be worthwhile for their coffers.

sharp cocorobo imouto premium vacuum cleaner robot anime moe character otaku talking akihabara

It draws on a cloud for the data to create the “conversations”, meaning it can respond to the season and weather for that day.

Such cuteness comes at a price. It costs a whopping ¥148,000 ($1,200).

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far or your tastes are rather different, we recommend you try out the regular Sharp Cocorobo vacuum cleaners instead.

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Kokoro Scanner Lie Detector Headset, a wearable truth-or-liar gadget by Takara Tomy

Written by: Japan Trends on October 9, 2014 at 9:36 am | In COOL PRODUCTS | 3 Comments

Winter is coming, as a certain HBO series constantly reminds us. But in Japan as we can stuck into the chill of the winter, there is a bright spark part of the way through — New Year. Not only does this mean plenty of family time and traditional food, it also means lots of end-of-year parties with coworkers.

These are known as bounenkai in Japan — “forget-the-year gatherings” — and invariably involve lots of drinking and more often than not, games. And while office workers letting their hair down at such late December parties are probably not the official main target for this product, we reckon they will get some of the highest levels of satisfaction from it.

Forget the polygraph. Takara Tomy has now come up with a great gizmo for having some fun at work parties. It’s a wearable lie detector toy!

kokoro scanner lie detector headset takara tomy

The Kokoro Scanner Lie Detector Headset will be released later this month and we are sure it will prove a big hit at parties with colleagues, students and family members.

What better a way to liven up a gathering than by testing if someone is lying or telling the truth?

How does it work? Well, the genius lies in how simple it is. No complicated wires or graphs. Just slip the headset on and answer whatever questions you are asked.

Assuming you are not a consummate actor able to control your body to perfection, the Kokoro Scanner measures fluctuations in your pulse. The logic here is that if you are telling the truth, your pulse will remain steady. If you are lying, you will be nervous and your heartbeat will increase.

The light on the top of the headset will flash green if you are telling the truth. If you get a yellow it means the headset is suspicious of your answer but not certain. If there’s a red light, then you’ve been branded a liar!

Okay, we’ve no idea if this works for real but there’s only one way to find out.

Get the Kokoro Scanner Lie Detector Headset from JapanTrendShop.

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Beat the Heat: Unusual Cooling Gadgets and Summer Products in Japan

Written by: Japan Trends on August 5, 2014 at 10:49 am | In COOL PRODUCTS, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

The Japanese summer is very hot — hot and humid. The up side of this is you get great festivals and fireworks, and also yukata, outdoor music events, and trips to the beach.

But trying to go about your normal life in the muggy, oppressive heat can be horrible, especially if you are one of the millions of poor souls who have to schlep to work on the rush hour trains. The air-conditioning may be on full blast but there is just too much heat, too much sweat and too many people.

There is another side to this season and that is you get lots of unusual summer products and gadgets. We’ve already covered some of the best “cooling” beverage trends in Japan, plus last year ran a basic guide for staying cool in the dog days.

How about trying some of these more unique ways to keep your temperature down?

Sports Match Rain or Shine Umbrella Parasol

sports viewing match uv parasol summer umbrella japanese visor

This special parasol keeps off the sun’s brutal rays but also gives you a “visor” so you can still watch the sports match or other outdoor event.

Frozen Beer Slushie Maker by Kirin Ichiban

kirin ichiban frozen beer slushie maker japan

The name says it all. You haven’t lived till you’ve tried this. While the taste may not to be everyone’s liking, there’s no contesting the originality of the concept and the ingenuity of the drink as a way to beat the summer heat.

Air-Conditioned Work Shirt K-200Y by Kuchofuku

kuchofuku air conditioned shirt fan cooling japan

THere is a whole series of these Kuchofuku “air-conditioned” clothes, from shirts to pants, helmets, jackets and even bee-keeper suits! Also check out the Deoest range of “odor-eliminating” clothes that are made with special materials to kill bad smells.

UV Cut Athlete Anti-Sunburn Mask

uv cut athlete mask anti sunburn clothes japan

Similar to the 3 Way Cool Arm Cover, this mask will keep off ultra-violet rays and ensure you don’t lose that pale complexion. Given that in the west women mostly want to get a healthy-looking tan, this may seem strange but the appeal of these kinds of products in Japan is that female beauty is often associated with fair skin. Women want to do sports and be out and about during the summer, but don’t want to sacrifice their beauty.

Monster Hunter USB Desk Fan

monster hunter desk usb fan

Our final selection is here to prove that tie-up merchandise really does come in all shapes and forms. This desk fan is for aficionados of the popular video game franchise, though you might not want to let your boss see you playing with it using it at work.

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