technology

Huge six-meter (19.7-foot) anime hug pillow will prove you’re a great big otaku 【Video】

When you look at them a certain way, huggy pillows with pictures of cute anime girls on them are kind of creepy. Well, actually, they’re creepy in several ways, but for right now, let’s limit our discussion to one way in particular.

Even if we accept that there’s nothing wrong with consensual love between a man and his pillow, their relative sizes make the situation kind of weird. After all, a person’s height is far greater than a pillow’s length, so wouldn’t Miss Anime Pillow feel a little awkward cuddling with her much larger otaku owner?

It’d probably be a little like squeezing a gigantic anime pillow that’s six meters (19.7 feet) long. Of course, if that sounds like your personal vision of bedtop bliss, there’s a company giving away just that.

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It sounds like HTC’s new phone is going to have an incredible camera

HTC is planning to announce a new smartphone and smartwatch at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona on March 1, according to a report from Bloomberg.

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Charge up your new tech with a nod to old games with Famicom controller battery pack/card reader

Although millions of people have fond memories of playing games on Nintendo’s original Famicom (known internationally as the NES), not too many people spend much time actually playing with the system anymore. After all, portable gaming devices like Nintendo’s own 3DS and even smartphones now boast more powerful hardware specs than the classic 8-bit console, and have just as large a library of legitimately fun games as well as the capability to play old-school titles as software downloads.

Of course, the flipside to having so many great portable games to play or, in the case of smartphones, extremely important websites to visit, is that your mobile devices are going to be running out of juice before long. Now, though, there’s a way to give your new tech a recharge and your old tech a shout-out simultaneously, with this battery pack/card reader that’s styled after the Famicom’s Player One controller.

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“Live2D Euclid” technology creates 3-D models while retaining the essence of a 2-D drawing

What happens when you take the merits of both 2-D and 3-D animation and combine them to make a new hybrid form of animation technology? Unfathomable as it may seem, that’s precisely the type of technology that Japanese company Live2D is in the midst of developing. Their latest achievement, known as “Live2D Euclid,” is software that is able to transform your 2-D drawings into a 3-D reality while still retaining the look and details of a pen and paper illustration. In other words, it looks like “a hand-drawn picture that will move in the way you want it to.”

Still confused? Check out the introductory video after the jump to see this new technology that is revolutionizing the way we animate characters in anime and video games!

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Great deal on “thing that lets you make a USB into a plug,” ask for it by name!

The other day while out shopping for computer parts like that-thing-that-connects-an-old-type-iPod-to-a-PC, one Twitter user stumbled upon a truly great deal. For only 200 yen (US$1.70) you can get…um, you know…one of those “things-that-let-you-make-a-USB-into-a-plug.”

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Chinese iPhone smuggler fails to deliver illicit goods, does deliver laughs with his crazy outfit

With his stylishly coifed hair, affected pose, and outlandish outfit, you could at first mistake the man in the above photo for a model. And given how ridiculous his getup is, you might find it only natural that his face is concealed, because honestly, even if you were getting paid for it, it’d still be kind of embarrassing to be seen dressed like this.

Except, that’s no fashion shoot, but a photograph taken by Chinese customs authorities who caught the would-be smuggler trying to sneak a huge quantity of smartphones into mainland China in one of the clumsiest ways possible.

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Internet ready to shut up and take your money as preorders finally start for Cat Ear Headphones

Last summer, were you one of the many people who screamed “Shut up and take my money!” when we brought you news of the prototype cat ear-shaped headphone/speakers from recent startup AxentWear? If so, your harshly worded enthusiasm has been rewarded, as preorders have at last begun for the futuristically feline gadgets.

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Japanese sixth-grader calls out smartphone-loving parents over anti-video game lectures

I understand that an important part of parenting is setting boundaries for children. Until they reach a certain age, kids just don’t have the kind of foresight necessary to fully understand the consequences of all their actions, and letting preteens eat as many cookies as they want or stay up as late as they like probably isn’t the best idea.

That said, another important part of parenting is setting a good example. Fail to do that, and your kids are likely to just tune out everything you’re saying. Actually, that might be the best case scenario, since if you’re flagrantly guilty of not practicing what you preach, your kids might call you out for it, like one Japanese elementary school girl who pointed out her parents’ logical inconsistency in lecturing about keeping her video game playing to a minimum, even as they were glued to their own electronic devices.

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Japan’s amazing Excel artist wishes everyone a happy new year using the spreadsheet program

All through high school and for the first part of college, I didn’t use Microsoft Word, or any dedicated word processing software, for that matter, to write my reports. Instead, I did everything using Lotus 1-2-3, a spreadsheet program.

While that might sound incredibly inconvenient, it actually wasn’t too bad. Having a dad who’s an accountant and was well-versed in the program was a big help, but once I got the hang of it, I could produce written reports just about as easily as my Word-equipped classmates.

Still, my spreadsheet skills aren’t in the same league as Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi, who’s been making beautiful landscapes and portraits with Microsoft Excel for years, including a New Year’s card that’s just as cute as any made with paint and brush.

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Want to buy a giant, rideable robot? Amazon Japan will sell you one

This year, my sister-in-law and nieces gave me an Amazon card for Christmas. The bookstore near my apartment in Yokohama doesn’t stock English-language books, so it’s an extremely thoughtful gift, but I haven’t actually visited Amazon’s site to pick out my new reading material, since I’m still in the middle of a lengthy novel I started during my recent flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

With a couple of hundred pages left to go, it might be a while before I actually use the card, and while I’m leaning towards a National Geographic subscription, I still haven’t ruled out the alternative of putting the card towards purchasing a giant robot, since Amazon Japan now sells those, too.

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Japan Ministry of Defense develops tiny, grenade-shaped remote surveillance robot

The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Technical Research & Development Institute (TRDI) appears to be nearing completion of the Throwable Type Reconnaissance Robot. It’s a little black orb about 50 percent bigger than a softball that Self-Defense Force members can simply toss into environments otherwise hazardous to humans and have a look around before taking action. It looks kind of awesome.

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Future Alert: In 2015 you’ll be able to use your smartphone to brush your teeth, kind of

We really are living in the future now! In the past few years toothbrush makers and even candy companies have been trying to find ways to use technology to help us brush our teeth better. In 2012, Oral-B came out with an electronic toothbrush with a separate handheld screen to help you control your brushing pressure. Last year, Hi-Chew candy maker Morinaga announced development of a video game to help kids learn how to brush better. Now, Sunstar, the maker of GUM mouth care products, has revealed the prototype of a new toothbrush attachment that can be linked to an application on your smartphone. The goal is not only better brushing, but making the process more entertaining.

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Hugh Jackman stars, sings J-pop cover, and speaks Japanese in ads for Toyota【Videos】

When you get to be as big a company as Toyota, you can afford to go out and get A-list talent for your commercials. Over the last few years, the automaker’s created a series of ads starring boy band SMAP’s Takuya Kimura and film icon Beat Takeshi.

In the commercials, collectively known as ReBORN, Kimura and Takeshi play historical figures Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, reincarnated in modern Japan. The latest installment even has a special guest star as Hugh Jackman, Wolverine himself, shows up to help spread the word about Toyota’s newest eco-friendly cars.

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Thanko’s Zero Gravity Armchair takes us to space in the comfort of our homes

Calling all fans of Interstellar! Can’t get enough of Christopher Nolan? Get yourself this Zero Gravity Armchair from Japanese gadget and technology fiends Thanko and pretend that you’re in space. This large rocking chair even comes with a smartphone stand so you can watch Interstellar at the same time, too.

Join us after the jump for a closer look at this gravity-defying modern-day throne!

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Sharp’s awesome new display tech licensed to Nintendo… who may not even use it for games

When you picture the evolution of TVs and other electronic displays, it’s hard not to be in awe at just how far they’ve come, getting thinner, more lightweight and portable than ever, with higher definition and brightness to the point that real-life basically looks pretty dull in comparison. But they’ve never really been able to shake that same boring shape: a flat rectangle.

So when Sharp announced it had developed a “Free-Form Display” that could be manufactured in virtually any shape, a lot of people more technically oriented than I am – and thus able to more easily imagine the many uses of a display shaped like a shoe or something – instantly proclaimed it a game-changer.

And when Sharp boasted about the technology, among those companies listening was Nintendo, who promptly snapped up a license for the tech and became the first company to officially announce it would use it for a future product.

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16 years after his death, new song by X Japan guitarist hide released with vocals by…hide?!

The Japanese music scene doesn’t have quite the lengthy list of young deaths that its Western counterpart does, but that doesn’t mean J-pop hasn’t lost some of its biggest stars while still in their prime. In 1998, 33-year-old hide, who rose to fame as guitarist for the band X Japan and had also established a successful solo career, was found dead in his apartment, hung by a towel attached to a doorknob.

Ruled a suicide, his death came as a shock to his legions of fans, and while he left behind a large body of work, it seemed they would never get to hear the song “Ko Gyaru,” which hide had been putting the finishing touches on before his passing. So it’s come as a surprise that a video for the song was recently released on YouTube, with vocals that sound as if they’re being provided by the deceased musician himself.

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3-D color printer used to bring Hokusai’s masterpiece to life for visually impaired

If you are a sighted person with an internet connection, chances are you have seen Katsushika Hokusai’s famous painting Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa at some point. Despite the clunky title, it is one of the most recognized pieces of Japanese art ever.

Now, thanks to 3-D printing, a company called K’s Design Lab, and Tsutaya’s bookstore-cum-lounge property T-Site, visually impaired art lovers too will soon be able to see this work by literally getting their hands on it.

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Apple opening first non-U.S. development center in Yokohama, Japan

To many visitors, both coming from elsewhere in Japan and abroad, Yokohama seems quaint and relaxed. Sure, it’s the second biggest city in the country, but Yokohama is best known for its bayside parks, giant Ferris wheel, and Chinatown (plus its occasional Pikachu outbreaks).

But Yokohama has also been the entry point to Japan for some of its largest cultural and technological influences. It was the site of Japan’s first gas lamps, photography studio, and even brewery as the country opened itself to outside visitors and innovations in the latter half of the 19th century. Viewed from that historical perspective, it’s fitting that technology giant Apple is setting up a new research and development center in Yokohama.

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New smartphone game turns car models into anime girls with model-worthy looks

For generations, automobile marketers have relied a tried and true method. Whether it’s an elegantly dressed woman stepping out of a luxury sedan in a TV commercial or a mini-skirted model draped over the hood of a sports coupe at an auto show, a quick way to make a car look appealing is by showing it next to an appealing-looking woman.

The company Autoc One is taking that concept one step further, though. What if, instead of showing a cute girl next to the car, you made the car itself a cute girl? You’d end up with something like Shanago Collection, Autoc One’s smartphone game starring anthropomorphized cars from Mazda, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, and more.

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Just in time for 2015! Hoverboard becomes reality, proves Back to the Future was legit

Remember that scene in the classic 80’s movie Back to the Future Part II, where Marty McFly escapes a group of bullies using a floating skateboard known as a hoverboard? If you do, you probably spent your childhood longing for one of those bad boys and wondering when technology would catch up to the 2015 depicted in the film. Well, it looks like we’ve managed to make it a reality, and just before the cut-off date, too! Join us after the jump for video evidence!

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