technology

The giant iPhone 6 Plus is most popular in Asia

Asian consumers are in love with the iPhone 6 Plus, according to a report published Thursday by AppLovin, a mobile ad network.

AppLovin looked at data from the more than 25 ad requests it processes every day, and found that the global split between iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users is about 80/20 right now.

But in some Asian countries, the 6 Plus is much more popular.

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1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours

On March 15, 2013, the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train quietly shut down for good, to be replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. Converting the line from above-ground to underground was a massive operation, requiring a grand total of 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours.

But, even if you’d been living in Tokyo at the time, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the construction, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night.

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Sharp’s new Japanese-inspired refrigerator is very cool (no pun intended)

Most people spend far more time looking into their refrigerator, hoping they somehow missed a plate of tasty snacks, than looking at their refrigerator. Even when the door is properly closed, we’re more likely to be reading the notes stuck there than admiring the design of the appliance itself.

But that’s just because most of us don’t have as eye-catching of a fridge as this tasteful Japanese beauty.

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Parody news announces “smart rice cooker” by KDDI, KDDI goes ahead and begins designing it

On 13 November, a tweet went out from Kyoko Shimbun which read “AAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Generally, such single-letter interjections don’t yield much of a response, but in this case they got over 400 retweets.

That’s because on this day, Kyoko Shimbun which translates to “Fabricated News” learnt that their fictional Infojar, a next-gen rice cooker with several smartphone capabilities, was in the research and development phase by the very company they were spoofing at the time, KDDI.

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Anime’s Tetsuwan Atom/Astro Boy shows up on a pedestrian walk signal in Japan

For many newcomers to anime and manga, it can be hard to tell characters drawn by the same artist apart. In general, Japanese designs use fewer lines, especially in the faces, than those of Western comic books, and even some artists themselves, such as Touch creator Mitsuru Adachi, have been known to get their own cast members mixed up.

That’s not a problem with Atom, though. Also known as Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka’s beloved mighty robot is instantly recognizable, whether in the pages of the manga where he debuted, onscreen in one of his many anime adaptations, or, in his most recent appearance, a pedestrian walk signal in Kanagawa Prefecture.

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Tinkerbell lives! Japanese company invents a way to draw in thin air with laser plasma technology

While the resurrection of Tupac and Michael Jackson were both pretty impressive, they weren’t exactly the sci-fi technology breakthroughs we’ve been waiting for since the Holodeck in Star Trek. But if you were left feeling disappointed by the beyond-the-grave spectacles, we have some hope for your technology-craving hearts!

Japanese technology company Burton Inc. recently wowed the Internet with a demonstration of a laser plasma device that enabled them to project 3-D images into the sky.

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Close Sisters Bras: The Frozen-inspired lingerie that changes color when you’re near a friend

Once a year, lingerie manufacturer Triumph designs a special bra that highlights social trends in Japan. The company shows off each year’s version at a press event, which always has two models, despite the fact that the bras they’re wearing have always been identical.

This year, though, the two-model system is more than just a way of upping the glamorous eye-candy quotient, since the patterns and color on the 2014 bras miraculously change when they’re close to each other.

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Want to see right through your car? Amazing video projection system lets drivers do just that

Almost all of my time behind the wheel has been in a small, two-seat convertible. This has really spoiled me, in that whenever I find myself in the driver’s seat of a fixed-top, full-sized car, I can’t help but wish for better visibility because of how many lines of sight get cut off by the car’s structure itself.

A team of Japanese researchers has solved this problem, though, with a clever system that allows the driver to see right through a car’s side panels and back seat.

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Japanese student draws functional QR code on school chalkboard, you’ll never guess where it leads

QR codes, with their seemingly arbitrary jumble of black and white squares, are popping up on all sorts of packaging and advertisements, allowing consumers to quickly and easily access a specific website on their smartphone. As common as they have become, we’ve never seen a QR code completely hand drawn on a chalkboard, but here we have one, carefully created by a student in Japan. The best part? The website it leads to is just as random as the decision to recreate a QR code using chalk.

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You guys, Donut Selfies are totally the next big thing

If there’s one unwritten, universal rule of the Internet (other than Rule 34), it’s that you can’t purposefully make something “go viral.” As you read this, there is almost certainly a team of marketing people in a boardroom somewhere trying to figure out a way to leverage that crazy “Shibe Doge” into an ad campaign that will almost certainly never succeed.

But one former Microsoft employee apparently thinks she can buck the trend with her new invention, the “Donut Selfie.”

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11 predictions Japanese people made hundreds of years ago about the future

For a large chunk of Japan’s history, there wasn’t much time to think about the future. Instead, most people’s days were filled with more immediate concerns, like trying to figure out how to survive the civil wars that were all the rage in the country during most of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

Things finally settled down in the early 1600s, though, and ordinary Japanese citizens entered into a long period of internal stability. Finally having enough time to muse about things to come, they came up with a list of predictions about Japan’s future, some of which are nowhere near how reality has turned out, and some of which were spot on.

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Panasonic may change the world with upcoming product…SAND!

When you think of the multinational electronics producer Panasonic, “sand” probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. However, if a new product they are looking to release meets its full potential, this new kind of sand may completely change the face of the Earth as we know it.

The picture above is not Panasonic sand, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at it anyways. Actually even if you examine their grains of soil under a microscope you wouldn’t see a difference. So let’s start by looking at what makes this dirt so special and how it could help everyone in one way or another.

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We test the new “walking bicycle”, find out how it feels to walk and cycle at the same time

Japan has come out with some pretty awesome ideas over the years. Pocket calculators, instant noodles, even CD players were all born here, and while they were developed in response to the needs of the local market, their popularity quickly spread far and wide around the globe.

Now Japan is set to revolutionise the way we travel with a new product called the Walking Bicycle Club. Touted as the first big breakthrough in 200 years of the cycling industry, the new vehicle is powered by stepping, rather than pedalling, and is designed to make walking more fun. But how does it feel to ride a bicycle that looks more like a mobile step machine? We dropped by the store to find out.

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Play Mario Kart on your living room floor (using robots!) with this awesome motion camera system

It’s unlikely Nintendo knew what a hit they had on their hands when releasing the very first Mario Kart title back in 1992. Since then, the series has gone on to be one of the company’s most consistently popular and best-selling properties.

In the 22 years the series has been around, fans have played it on the Super NES, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, DS, 3DS, Wii, and Wii U. And now, Mario Kart is serving as inspiration for a couple of inventors who’re making a similar game that you can play with robots on your living room floor, complete with weapons and power-ups.

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Check the weather forecast with a cool gadget that recreates the conditions in your living room

Growing up, I never really bothered with checking the weather report, since living in southern California meant it was sunny almost every day. It’s a different story in Japan, which sees rain in each season. Add in how much walking people do here, plus the fact that everyone hangs their clothes outside, and knowing how the weather’s going to be tomorrow becomes a little more important.

You could get the forecast from the TV news or the Internet, but if you’re looking for a more stylish alternative, a group of inventors have developed a box that’ll recreate the weather of the future, as well as the past and present, right in your living room.

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Photos claim to show difference between Chinese and other travelers, somehow show less and more

There’s a collection of photos making its way around the Internet which attempts to point out a huge difference between Chinese and Western travelers in airports. Whereas the latter are content to relax or read a good book, the Chinese can’t seem to take their eyes off their electronic gizmos. Haha! Isn’t China wacky, guys?

Honestly, I like a cheap laugh as much as the next guy, but just like how there’s a certain price point you shouldn’t go below when buying underwear, there’s such a thing as a laugh that’s too cheap. When you really stop and take a look at what’s going on in these photos, trying to draw any sort of broad conclusions about the Chinese character from them makes about as much sense as slipping on a pair of burlap boxer shorts.

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Detached female hand iPhone cases are here to provide…emotional comfort?

As awesome as smartphones are, do they really help us to better communicate with one another? Sure, it’s nice to be able to instantly talk with anyone, regardless of whether you’re at home or out and about, but there are certain things we lose by doing it with the help of technology. Even as mobile phones’ audio and video capabilities continue to improve, they’re still not perfect. Without talking face-to-face, you can’t pick up on every facial expression, hear each subtle change in inflection, or reach out and hold someone’s hand should the conversation turn emotional or romantic.

Unless you’re using this iPhone case that’s an eerily detailed replica of a human hand.

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Awesome iPhone cases made with traditional Hakata textiles give your device a timeless look

Aside from some of the best tonkotsu (pork stock) ramen in Japan, Fukuoka is famous for Hakata ori textiles. The merchant Mitsuda Yazaemon returned from his travels to China in 1235 with the techniques he would put to use in making the woven patterns, which proved to be so prized that they were even given as tribute to the shogun.

Hakata ori is still popular today, and it can often be seen in the sashes Fukuoka residents use to tie their kimono. If you’re looking for a more modern use, though, you can now order elegant Hakata ori covers for your iPhone, iPad, or Kindle.

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New first-class bus seats have built-in massage functions, internet access and… dictionary

Starting soon, you’ll be able to make the journey from Fukuoka to Tokyo with about as much style as you can get while riding an excruciatingly long night bus.

The Nisshi Nippon Railroad Co., which confusingly also apparently operates a bus line or two, says it will be installing the new “Premium Seats” on a very small selection of its newest buses. While we’ll admit there’s nothing all that luxurious about a bus seat, no matter how far the seat reclines and how fancy the amenities, this one comes with a pretty extensive list of perks:

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Anger online as tweeting tech guru Takeshi Natsuno slams Sendai for rejecting IC card

You may have heard the name Takeshi Natsuno before. A Keio University professor, former Senior Vice President at NTT Docomo, Sega Sammy big-wig, and creator of i-mode, he is by all accounts an intelligent, not to mention extremely tech-savvy, dude. So you can imagine the surprise the good residents of the city of Sendai felt when he took to his Twitter account earlier this week to publicly disparage their home town as being “too lame for words”.

Just what prompted this sudden outpouring of ire? Well, it seems Mr Natsuno felt rather short-changed when he attempted to use his prepaid Suica IC Card to ride the Sendai subway. Suica is a Tokyo-based IC card system. Sendai is not in Tokyo. You can probably see where this is going.

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