Cyber Agent, the people of Ameba, are part of a three-company consortium behind the new Shibuya Clickable Project, a system for Online to Offline (O2O) services using IC tags and NFC-enabled smartphones.
Lampposts in Shibuya will have IC tags installed as stickers on them so that users with smartphones can receive data on events and nearby stores. The service will start in early June, provided by some 300 streetlights along Shibuya’s Koen-dori, Dougenzaka and Miyamasuzaka in collaboration with the retailers’ associations in the Shibuya station area.
Similar to the Ginza Ubiquitous Technology Project, which saw Ginza and other areas tagged with QR codes, IC tags and more to offer local information to pedestrians with a special handset, the idea here is to be more commercially viable, offering special deals to users who “scan” the lamppost tags — real-time coupons and so on. (The Ginza Ubiquitous Technology Project is a long-running scheme run rather haphazardly by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government ostensibly for tourists in Ginza, Ueno, Hamarikyu Gardens and so on.)
It sounds a bit analog to be tagging lampposts in Ginza or Shibuya in this way, but as Cyber Agent says, “by utilizing IC tag-embedded stickers, the user’s location can be determined more accurately than with GPS, the usual technology for establishing location, allowing the provision of more specific and detailed local information.”
The Shibuya Clickable Project will release information not only on retail sites but also can dispense invaluable maps and updates during disasters and hazards. However, its main purpose is for PR and promo information, such as coupons, product samples and campaign news for cafes, stores and events. Later it will be broadened to work with Mapion, a popular location search service, for better specified location data, and also install tags inside stores.
Visitors to Shibuya should also look out for “interactive measures linked to large outdoor video screens in Shibuya” and “campaigns utilizing treasure hunt games”.
Panasonic has just launched a new service whereby you can get your very own uniquely designed camera.
The Design Simulator customizing service can be accessed via PanaSense, the maker’s e-commerce portal, and are limited to Lumix DMC－XS1 cameras only.
You can do all the designing online yourself, changing colors and patterns, adding images and stamps, and decorating the camera with text of your choice.
Here’s a masterpiece that we spent hours working on…
And here’s a somewhat better sample design (not by us).
For orders being taken until mid-May the cameras are set to arrive in late May. After that, Panasonic then anticipates having got the system well oiled enough to provide you with your very own customized shooter within two weeks from placing an order.
PanaSense already offers customizable designs for Panasonic Let’s note SX/NX laptop computers.
Japanese toilets are pretty sophisticated contraptions. From heated seats and “butt showers” to buttons where you can play sounds and music to preserve your modesty during noisy evacuations, foreign visitors never cease to be amazed by the tech and thinking that goes behind making that daily function a bit nicer to perform.
This is all the more surprising when you consider the rather uncivilized long oh-shaped hole-in-the ground that is the old-style Japanese toilet, a sort of open drain that even today greets desperate commuters in train station toilets… and is always certain to repel cowardly tourist no matter how badly they need to go.
Proving that there are still more ways to enhance that most functional of household items, Lixil is releasing three new Satis model toilets in spring 2013.
Using the My Satis Android app, toilet users will be able to control the Bluetooth-equipped commode with their smartphones, including flushing, lifting the toilet seat and so on.
You can make personal settings and play music through the toilet’s speakers, and also through storing your “usage history” in the toilet you can see on your device how much your electricity and water bills are going to be.
You can then set up a “toilet diary” to monitor your visits to the can and check on your health, complete with cute euphemistic symbols for what you managed to achieve on different days.
The new Satis toilets will be on sale from next February.
From emergency evacuation jackets and rescue carry bags, dog pedometers, and even canine communication translators (!?), the Japanese could at times be accused of taking their love of pets a bit too far.
Sure, there’s certainly a lot of strange pet accessories out there, from wigs to outlandish duck bill design dog muzzles that might have observers calling at least the fashion police, if not even the animal cruelty hotline.
But here’s one new innovation that is both a stroke of engineering genius as well as a practical tool to ease worried pet owners’ minds.
If you want to keep an eye on your pooch’s eating habits but don’t want to leave your desk, this Remoca Dog Food Bowl Camera set will be able to relay video of everything for you.
Equipped with sensors, as your dog approaches it switches on and films him or her getting their fill of nosh or water. If you are concerned about when and how much your pet is eating, you can keep an eye on the hungry pooch even from your office or when you are otherwise out of the house or busy.
The camera can be adjusted to change the angle it shows — but the movement is quiet and smooth so as not to distract your pet from their food.
You can even control it remotely to open up secret compartments with treats, record video for later viewing, or watch it on your phone on a special app. Hell, there’s even infrared in the camera so you can check up on your dog’s night time snacks!
Recently showcased at an expo in Nagoya, Hirobo‘s new helicopters can travel up to 100km/h (62mph) and fly for 30 minutes at a time.
Being electric it is also very quiet and there are one-seater choppers that sell for 30 million yen ($375,000) and manless ones (a drone, but a nice one that doesn’t kill people!) for 10 million yen ($125,000).
Hirobo believes the domestic market alone for this kind of technology will grow to 10 billion yen (over $120 million) in 2021.
The one-seater chopper is not quite as funky as the James Bond rocket backpack in Thunderball, but it’s getting there.
This kind of mobile technology is obviously very useful for earthquakes and other disasters when you need to send people into dangerous and difficult terrain to look for survivors. Sure, it’s maximum travel time is very short, but this may be vital for delivering supplies of blood, organs or other emergency equipment.
Hirobo also hopes to develop two-seater versions.
GEN Corporation previously developed the GEN H-4, which they claimed was the world’s smallest manned helicopter.
The GEN H-4 was much cheaper (7.5 million yen / $100,000) but runs on noisy gasoline.