technology

Solo Theater: The surreal home theater in a box for your smartphone or tablet

A home theater setup can be a great way to enjoy your favorite movies. But what if you don’t have the space for a lot of bulky, high-end audio/video equipment, or if you just don’t have people over often enough to justify the cost? Furthermore, what’s the point in investing in a big screen TV and array of speakers if you watch most of your movies and videos on your smartphone or tablet?

Thankfully, there’s now a way to recapture the Cinemaplex experience in a compact and affordable way, with the single-occupant Solo Theater from Japanese design house Lucy Alter Design.

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Cat-ear headphones prototype shown for the first time in preview video

They say that good things come to those who wait. Cat-ear headphones sound like a very good thing to us, so it makes sense that even six months after Axent Wear started a crowdfunding campaign for its feline-inspired audio equipment, the stylish and playful pieces of tech aren’t quite ready to ship.

The California-based company has, however, thrown all us all a tasty fishbone, though, with a just-released video of the very first working prototype of the Cat Ear Headphones.

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Mr. Sato discovers the band of his dreams: this small box

Hardcore readers of RocketNews24 may have caught the very few instances where Mr. Sato has pulled out a guitar and started playing. It’s easy to miss, though, as Mr. Sato is what’s known as a bochi gitarisuto (lonely guitarist) who plays alone at home solely for his own satisfaction.

But now our reporter is all too eager to show of his guitar stylings after discovering the Trio Band Creator by DigiTech. It looks just like a normal effects pedal but actually adds an automatic bass and drum accompaniment based on your own playing.

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You can take this 33,000-pound robot for a virtual test drive, watch it dance to J-pop 【Video】

Now that we’re living in the age of giant fighting robots, it’s time to update the list of things a fully capable member of society needs to be able to do. And while many anime make piloting a huge mecha as simple as falling into the cockpit and learning as you go, it’d be irresponsible to assume things are so easy in the real world.

That’s why we sent one of our reporters to check out a 15,000-kilogram (33,000-pound) giant robot that’s on display in Tokyo right now. Not only is it awesome to look at, its creators will even let you take it for a virtual test drive.

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New video shows professional skateboarder waxing poetic about the Lexus Hoverboard, not riding it

Last year’s battery-powered hoverboard definitely got people’s attention online, with images of Marty McFly dancing in their heads. A guest appearance by Tony Hawk certainly didn’t hurt public awareness either. Still, with a battery life of only seven minutes and the need for special flooring to actually hover, the board wasn’t likely to fill our futuristic dreams.

But then last month Lexus decided to steal some of that public awareness thunder for themselves with a video showing off their hoverboard, which apparently floats thanks to liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and permanent magnets. But Lexus’s last video didn’t show anyone even riding it! How about this new teaser?

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Why squash bugs when you can trap them in this cool vacuum gun?

Humidity-loving bugs are just as much a part of a Japanese summer as fireworks festivals and barley tea. Dealing with the creepy crawly intruders in your home isn’t always easy, though, especially if you’ve got an aversion to touching them. Sure, you can use bug spray instead of doing the dirty work of squashing them yourself, but you’ll still have to use your hands to pick up the carcass and dispose of it after the poison takes effect.

Luckily, though, your options aren’t entirely limited to sharing your living space with bugs or touching them, in the form of this bug-sucking vacuum gun.

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Japan’s new social network has an AI bouncer to keep out all but one percent of college students

The great thing about online social networking services is that they allow you to connect with anyone in the world. The bad news, though, is that there are bound to be some people out there that you don’t really want to be connected to. Of course, most systems give you the option to block other users who’re bothering you, but a new Japanese social network just might be able to stop such unpleasantness before it ever begins, thanks to the fact that only applicants who’re cleared by a strict artificial intelligence examination will be allowed to join.

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Soccer star Ronaldo is at it again, now starring in ad for weird Japanese ab device 【Video】

There are a lot of things about Cristiano Ronaldo that we know to be true. He is objectively a very attractive man. He is objectively a fantastic soccer player. He objectively very rich. He is – and we say this without irony – “big in Japan.” He is objectively in great shape.

He will also, objectively, endorse near any damn thing. Like this weird ab device.

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First gorillas, now horses – Google Photos app really needs to get its act together

In case you missed it, large news agencies such as The Telegraph reported a few days ago that the new Google Photos application was discovered to have been mislabeling some photos of black people with a “gorilla” tag. Although not quite as racially insensitive as that incident, one Japanese net user also discovered that the software similarly mislabeled his father as an animal–only this time, of the equine variety. 

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Giant robot fight is on! Suidobashi accepts Americans’ challenge, wants to “punch them to scrap”

Like a lot of people, up until a few days ago I’d never heard of MegaBots, despite the fact that the California-based company has apparently created a pretty amazing (and armed) giant robot. That all changed, though, when the designers of the MegaBot Mark II released a video challenging Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industry, the makers of the Kuratas robot, to a duel.

It definitely got MegaBots plenty of attention, and now it’s gone beyond just a cagey PR move. Suidobashi has accepted the challenge, and is spitting back some fighting words of its own.

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A.I. say I do: Japan’s first ever robot wedding?!

Last week, America celebrated the legalisation of gay marriage following the Supreme Court ruling recognising same-sex unions. Meanwhile in Japan, other celebrations of a very different kind were going on– Japan’s first ever robot wedding! Yes, that’s right, two Japanese robots said I do and tied the knot.

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Giant robot fight coming soon? American inventors’ video challenges Japanese counterparts to duel

California-based MegaBots spells out its mission pretty clearly on the company’s website: Giant fighting robots. So far, though, they’re only two-thirds of the way to that goal.

The MegaBot Mark II is clearly a robot, and definitely giant, but it hasn’t really done much fighting yet. Since no one wants to watch giant robots grapple with their inner psychological demons and emotional issues, the Mark II needs an opponent, and its American designers have decided to throw the gauntlet all the way across the Pacific, releasing a video officially challenging Japan’s own currently on-sale giant robot to a duel.

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What sorcery is this?! New toy aquarium is populated with your own hand-drawn fish 【Video】

Certainly, it is the dream of every kid and a not-insignificant number of adults for their crude doodles of space monsters, stick figures and whatnot to suddenly spring to life. Imagine how much fun you would have if you could actually hang out with that stick figure you drew in third grade!

Let’s ignore the reality that said stick figure would probably just stare at you, handless arm extended towards you in silent accusation at how you gave it such terrible, unholy life. It would be pretty cool to just draw up a new friend to hang out with, or triceratops to ride or something just whenever, right?

Well, Takara Tomy Arts has kind of, sort of figured out a way to make dreams of bringing your drawings to life a reality, with Picturerium, an aquarium that you populate with your own doodles!

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The future has arrived: Lexus reveals prototype of a real Hoverboard

Ever since watching the character of Marty McFly ride his hoverboard in that famous hoverboard chase scene in Back to the Future Part II , I’m sure most kids have wanted to own one. Perhaps that day is not too far away.

Lexus recently released a video teaser for its latest invention, the SLIDE, and while it’s not for sale, the company is on the verge of making the world’s first real rideable hoverboard a reality.

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Samsung prototype ‘Safety Truck’ uses all-weather screens to make driving safer, maybe

If you’re a driver, chances are at some point you’ve been behind a slow-moving truck or semi-trailer, trying to overtake but unable to see if there is traffic coming in the opposite direction. This can be frustrating, but it can also be deadly if you pull around at the wrong moment.

South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung may have found a solution to this problem with their prototype Safety Truck, however. It uses a wireless camera and outdoor screens to give drivers following the trucks a view around them.

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Amazing 3-D printing pen 3Doodler gets a cheaper, slimmer version and workshops in Tokyo 【Video】

About a year ago, we took a look at the 3Doodler, an amazing crafting tool developed by U.S.-based WobbleWorks. Described as a 3-D printing pen, the 3Doodler uses plastic filament to let you draw in mid-air, creating physical objects instead of flat images.

Now we know what you’re all thinking: Where are those 3-D printed Mr. Sato statues we talked about making in our previous article? Well, it turns out we don’t actually have the artistic skills to properly capture the likeness of the head of RocketNews24’s Vice-President of Craziness. Oh, and also we’re cheap.

Thankfully, it looks like there’s a way to solve both of those problems. The updated 3Doodler 2.0 is easier to handle and less expensive than the original model, and there’s even a series of  upcoming workshops in Tokyo that’ll teach you how to get started drawing three-dimensional works of art.

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Boredom might be behind brilliant Dyson fan loop spotted in Japanese electronics store

James Dyson is kind of the mad scientist/rockstar celebrity of the admittedly probably not very exciting world of vacuum cleaner and fan design. The Dyson company’s innovations have more or less revolutionized the world of electronic devices that primarily, uh… suck and blow.

But it looks like Dyson’s genius designs are so innovative that with the right amount of boredom and free time, just being in the mere presence of Dyson products can apparently inspire creative epiphany, as this infinitely looping Dyson fan layout – spotted at a Japanese electronics store – seems to prove.

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Just how clean are Japan’s high-tech public restroom bidet-equipped toilets?

After cars and video game consoles, fancy toilets just might be Japan’s best-known technological achievement. In a society that prizes cleanliness, it’s no surprise that being able to push a button and have a warm stream of water wash your backside has become one creature comfort many can’t do without.

As such, just about everyone in Japan is happy to have a washlet, as bidet-equipped toilets are called here, in their home. Some people can’t help but wonder, though, if they’re spraying someone else’s fecal matter back up on themselves when they use a washlet in a public restroom.

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Can you spot what’s wrong with this picture? One young salaryman couldn’t

There’s a Japanese phrase, yutori sedai, that you’ll hear in just about any established company after the new hires start showing mid-spring. The term refers to people who’ve grown up in Japan’s modern, less strict educational system (which is still stricter than those in many other countries), and while yutori sedai literally translates as “relaxed generation,” it’s real meaning is closer to “damned kids today,” as it’s almost always used in a derogatory sense by an older worker who’s exasperated at a younger employee’s lack of proper manners, business acumen, or just plain common sense.

A lot of times, the people muttering under their breath about the yutori sedai do so out of a combination of stubbornly resisting change and convenient memory gaps that don’t include any of the many mistakes they made in their own youth, but this experienced salaryman may have a point, given that his yutori sedai coworker can’t seem to grasp the finer points of how to hang up a phone.

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Math-solving phone app is the quickest way to self-study, skip homework, and/or fail your tests

I think we can all agree that math is a pretty handy thing to understand, right? A basic concept of things like fractions and algebraic equivalents is what keeps us from getting taken advantage of by con men who make such tempting offers as trading two of their shiny monies (or even three!) for our one paper money when the latter is actually of greater value.

Still, basic math is all about following the proper procedures to arrive at the one true solution, which is why you don’t get partial credit for having the wrong answer on your math assignment just because you took a novel approach and wrote the numbers with nice penmanship. As such, you can program a machine to spit out the answer in a fraction of a second, and with a new smartphone app, all you have to do is snap a picture of the math problem, and let the app take over from there.

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