Just recently, Softbank Mobile, Japan's biggest cell phone carrier, signed a deal with Aoyama Gakuin University to provide iPhone 3Gs to 1,000 students to keep tabs of their attendance via the phone's Global Positioning System. The company now has a plan to equip the same amount of elementary-school students with GPS phones.
However, the purpose this time is much more serious than nabbing truants. As reported by the Associated Press, this is to test how GPS-enabled cell phones can help track the spreading of an infectious disease and stop it from becoming a pandemic. This is part of the Japanese government's effort to promote Japan's Internet and cellular infrastructure to new users.
This government-backed experiment uses a virtual sickness that is highly contagious. A few months from now, a few students will be chosen to be "infected" with this sickness. Their movements will then be tracked via their cell phones and compared with other students. Stored GPS data can then be used to determine which children have crossed paths with the infected students and are at risk of having contracted the disease.
The families of exposed students will be notified via cell phone messages with instructions on how to get them checked out by doctors. In a real-world outbreak, this could help better control the rate of new infections.
The significance of this level of control is demonstrated via Softbank's calculation: If an infected person spreads the illness to another three people per day, and each newly infected person then makes another three people sick, on the 10th day about 60,000 people would catch the disease. However, if each sick person only infected two people a day, after 10 days, then only about 1,500 people would get sick. … Read more
Here's something that's guaranteed to crack up your friends--a knuckle-cracking simulator that ensures you never run out of knuckles to crack.
The idea, according to Strapya World, which sells the product, is looking tough--since "you always see fighters cracking their knuckles before they start fighting, right?"
I'm just surprised Japan's quirky toymaker Bandai didn't think this one up before Strapya World. Though at a piddling 500 yen ($5.26), don't expect this gimmick to be crackingly loud (it sounds tinny in the vid below) or to last past a few good abusive … Read more
While Sarah Fisher was out and about spreading the word last week about the 93rd Indianapolis 500, another Indy woman has also been attracting a lot of attention--Danica Patrick. While Danica is driving tons of Internet traffic from swimsuit shoots and steamy TV commercials, she has also become a savvy self-marketer and top contender in Indy racing. In fact, at this last weekend's Indianapolis 500, Danica finished third, her best showing at the Indy 500 to date.
If she hadn't before, Danica put the racing world on notice and made history when she won her first Indy race … Read more
The new Japanese Wii Catering Channel (Demae Channel) lets you point and click your way to food delivery right from your Nintendo Wii.
There are categories for pizza, noodles, sandwiches, curry, burgers, chicken, and many other snacks, complete with visual menus that let you select toppings and save your orders for next time.
Food is a national obsession in Japan, but as far as I know delivery isn't as common as in other big cities, such as New York. I suspect Wii players will be able to easily rationalize ordering a meal to augment all the calories they burn … Read more
Sunbathers in Japan will have another beach- or pool-friendly keitai (phone) to carry around this summer. Simply known as the Solar Phone SH002, a 10-minute exposure to direct sunlight will yield one minute of talktime or two hours of standby.
Of course, the mileage you get is dependent on factors like the intensity of solar radiation and cloud cover. But you should be able to juice up the battery to 80 percent of its capacity if left outdoors long enough. There's even a Flash animation app that tells you how fast your phone is charging with a growing number … Read more
As a lifetime console gamer, it probably comes as no surprise that I have a certain affinity for games made in Japan. Seriously, give me a single-player Japanese RPG over the American equivalent any day of the week.
Given this, the news that more Japanese game developers want to develop on the iPhone has me giddy as a schoolboy! And I've never been giddy, even when I was a schoolboy.
CasualGaming.biz reported Thursday on a survey conducted by Japanese middleware developer CRI. The survey polled 102 Japanese game developers (individuals, not companies).
Eighteen percent of those surveyed had … Read more
I'm definitely way past the age for childhood toys, though some people still haven't outgrown that. I believe the politically correct phrase for them is "young at heart." However, Japanese retailer Banpresto has taken the zoetrope (remember the spinning drum with slits that make the static images inside appear to move like a flip book?), and given it a modern spin, so to speak.
Its Twinklepict has figures inside, backlit by a flashing internal light. As the characters in the dome spin, their shadowy forms project out in a pretty light show. This works on three … Read more
I just got back from a trip to California, where I got to be with almost my entire extended family. I'm 33 years old and single, so the whole time I had relatives telling me to hurry up and get married. The pressure was horrible. But now that I've seen, courtesy of talk2myShirt, this "husband hunting" bra concept from Japan, I'm a little relieved.
The bra, by Triumph International, has a built-in digital timer indicating how much time's left before the woman wearing it must get married. If she's not married by the … Read more
Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has revealed plans to build a massive cloud computing infrastructure to support all of the government's IT systems. Tentatively called the Kasumigaseki Cloud, the new infrastructure will be built in stages from now until 2015. The goal of the project is to consolidate all government IT systems into a single cloud infrastructure to help improve operational efficiency and reduce cost.The Kasumigaseki Cloud will "enable various ministries to collaborate to integrate and consolidate hardware and create platforms for shared functions. Efforts will be made to efficiently develop and operate information … Read more