technology

Awesome new electric motorcycle looks like something out of “Akira”‘s Neo Tokyo

Despite working a boring office job and having lived in Tokyo for long enough that not even schoolgirl uniforms, random cosplayers or the neon wash of Kabukicho really give me pause anymore, there are still moments when I look around at all the futuristic bizarreness and think, Is this real life? Or am I living in the dystopian anime world of Akira?

Maybe it’s the abnormally tall buildings, the dingy arcades that look like they’re right out of that early Akira scene. Maybe it’s the male hosts with their impeccable dress and gravity-defying hair, or the life-size, moving Gundam of Odaiba. Or maybe it’s because every once in a while a vehicle like this new electric motorcycle will come roaring down the street like its giving chase to an escaped Replicant or something.

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Want to see this impressively huge AR Titan? No problem, just fire up your personal drone

The hit anime Attack on Titan has really captured Japan’s imagination. For some reason, the idea of giant naked people eating regular sized humans really resonates with the Japanese psyche. So, it logically followed that various entities have attempted to recreate the scale of the series’ titular Titans in real life. Through Universal Studios’ impressive statues to, of course, a porn set and beyond, a lot of attempts have come close to capturing the pants-wetting terror of seeing a Titan in real life.

But none have come as close to a true-to-scale Titan as this private (!!!) augmented reality (AR) hobbyist who has managed to project a massive AR Titan dancing giddily in the Japanese countryside. And all you’ll need to see it for yourself is a multi-thousand dollar personal drone. You know, no big deal.

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Want to practice karaoke without anyone hearing you sing? This disturbing gadget is for you!

As fun and entertaining as a night of karaoke can be, it presents a major problem for many people. If you’re not used to it, singing in front of others can be embarrassing, even when the audience is made up of your close personal friends. Practicing at home can help you build confidence, but if you’ve got roommates or an apartment with paper-thin walls, that might not be an option, especially if you’re still at a level where you’re singing is less “sweet serenade” and more “public disturbance.”

Thankfully, there’s a solution that doesn’t involve calling a contractor and adding layer upon layer of sound-proofing to your bedroom walls. Instead, all you need is this noise-blocking microphone for solo karaoke practice.

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Spiral escalators may be even more stylish than clothes at Japanese department store in Shanghai

There’s definitely an elegance to a spiral staircase, and you could argue that an opulent shopping palace is just the place to install one, letting your customers feel stylish and sophisticated even as they move from one floor to the next. However, they won’t feel so glamorous if they’re panting for breath after walking to the top of an eight-story building.

That’s why for its new Shanghai branch, this Japanese department store decided to install spiral escalators, which it’s claiming are the longest of their type in the world.

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Japanese PM Shinzo Abe says he pays his Facebook and Twitter fees just like everyone else

Has Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fallen for one of those “Facebook to start charging” hoaxes?

Abe found himself the butt of the joke in parliament this week after slipping up on the subject of social media. The prime minister proudly told the House of Councillors on Wednesday that of course, he pays his Facebook and Twitter membership fees.

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More than just cartoons, here are five anime that predicted and inspired the future [Video]

The future doesn’t seem all that far away anymore, especially with tablets, 3D TVs and the advent of hoverboards, as predicted in Back to the Future Part II. But it’s not just Hollywood movies that gave us a glimpse of what was to come. If we take a step back and review certain classic anime, we see some hints and foreshadowing of things that we either have todayor soon will.

The guys over at nerdy-cool fandom website Dorkly, compiled a video list of 5 Times Anime Predicted the Future, doing a great job of picking out some startlingly accurate predictions and possible inspirations. It could have been premonition, it could have been that vital element that inspired today’s scientists. Either way, it’s pretty cool, if not creepy at times.

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Sony sets its sights on the Chinese market, unleashes its limited-edition dragons on March 20

As the third-largest gaming market in the world, with revenues surpassing US$15 billion in 2014, China has long been a coveted prize for global gaming giants. Yet, until recently, that prize has remained out of reach due to the Chinese government’s 14-year ban on sales of foreign gaming consoles. With that ban now lifted, Japan’s Sony is set to take the plunge into these uncharted waters.

Sony is spearheading its entry into the new market with the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, both of which will go on sale in China on March 20. This being the second planned release after a previous delay in January, Sony is pulling out all the stops with limited-edition models of both systems.

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Traditionally dressed Japanese waitress runs so fast her kimono flies off in cheeky Wi-Fi advert

Kimono are beautiful, often brightly-coloured intricate works of art as well as being items of clothing. But if you’ve ever tried one on, you’ll know that the sensation is at first somewhat akin to being wrapped in a sleeping bag or heavy roll of carpet. Even walking in a kimono can take some getting used to, and it beats me how Kyoto’s Maiko are able to dance in those things.

But in this slightly naughty commercial by Japanese internet provider UQ-WIMAX, a kimono-clad waitress at a traditional Japanese restaurant actually manages to run so fast, her kimono goes flying off!

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Samsung’s Dream Doghouse: a $30,000 pad for the cultivated canine

When we look at our four-legged companions, we can see ourselves stripped of all the complications of being human. After all, dogs seem to derive an almost inordinate amount of joy from the simplest pleasures: a well-chewed bone; a warm spot on the couch; occasional rolls in the dirt. Yet, as with humans, there are some dogs that value the finer things in life. 

Samsung might just have the answer for these posh canines: the Dream Doghouse. With building costs of US$30,000, this prime piece of real estate is hardly a bargain… but, then again, how many doghouses have a hydro-pool and treadmill?

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Japanese government to recruit “white hat” hackers for landmark cybersecurity initiative

The word “hacker” might bring to mind the motley crew of the 1995 film Hackers, or else a number of high-profile cyberattacks resulting in everything from compromised email addresses to a massive Sony data leak. Recently, however, cybersecurity measures are proving that not all hackers are created equal.

Starting in early 2015, the Japanese government will begin recruiting personnel for a fledgling team of “white hat” hackers. Unlike their counterparts on the other side of the law, these computer experts will bring their skills to bear in identifying and protecting against potential security threats.

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Five things expats wish Japan had, and why it’s sometimes a good thing it doesn’t

For the most part, Japan is a pretty great country to live in. Among a host of other positives, it’s clean and safe, with good infrastructure and reliable transportation.

Still, some people move to Japan and find that even if they like the overall package, it doesn’t quite have all the comforts of home. Today, we’re taking a look at a list compiled by blogger and internationalist Madame Riri of five things expats wish Japan had, plus adding our own explanation of why it’s sometimes a good thing that it doesn’t.

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D Free: a new wearable device that gives you a 10-minute warning to find a toilet 【Video】

After inventing the printing press, mastering the power of flight, and connecting the world through the power of the Internet, it’s inspiring to know there is still more human ingenuity out there innovating and giving us life-changing products like a USB-powered rice ball warmer. But our species is a bright bunch and we continue to find new ways to harness technology, like a Japanese startup that has announced a new wearable device that predicts bowel movements and gives the user a 10-minute heads-up before needing to find a toilet.

It may not be as trendy of a wearable as the upcoming Apple Watch, but it could be a life-changing device for people who suffer from incontinence or those working in the nursing home industry.

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Saga Prefecture is in big trouble as “technology in the classroom” trial fails big time

Nowadays, with online resources, textbooks, and even virtual high schools, technology has been making a big impact in the education world. School computer labs have come a long way in recent years and some schools are even supplying tablets for their pupils to use in class! Oh, to be a student in the 21st century!

Unfortunately, many schools in Japan have yet to jump on the in-classroom technology bandwagon. Wanting to head-up a new trend, last year Saga Prefecture decided to do a trial run of personal computers for students, and so had all high school first years purchase tablets–only, the technology caused so many problems, the program has been sacked only a year in and now the board of education is in hot water.

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How to cook pot stickers in just three seconds: Lots of garlic, lots of craziness 【Video】

I love gyoza, the pork and garlic-packed dumplings that you can find in diners, ramen joints, and grocery stores across Japan. Seriously, when the Japan Gyoza Association released an ad that was just a dude running around with a delirious grin saying, “Aha! Gyoza! Ahaha!” it seemed, to me, like the most natural reaction in the world to the little wrapped bits of deliciousness.

Really, the only complaint I have about gyoza is that I don’t have a freshly cooked batch in front of me right now. With a solution to that problem, here’s a video of how to make gyoza in just three seconds, without using a microwave.

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Anime pillow responds to your rubbing with moans and groans, gets angry if you get too grabby

A proper anime character huggy pillow seems to have become a critical component of the full fetish and fantasy regalia of a well-rounded otaku, but there are certain things you just can’t do with such a 2-D crush. Sure, anime girl pillows will let you squeeze them and passionately insert your sweet nothings into their non-existent eardrums, but no matter how fervently romantic you become, you can’t expect any sort of pillow talk from your pillow.

Unless, that is, you’re curled up beneath the sheets with the Ita-Supo, the first talking huggy pillow that responds to your touch with verbal responses, including angry outbursts if you get too grabby.

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“That can’t be an Asian person…” Apple’s plan for greater emoji diversity backfires

With expressions ranging from happy to sad to ironic, emoticons serve as a kind of virtual extension of the self on online messaging platforms. As a result, many rejoiced when Apple decided to import Japan’s Emoji keyboard back in 2011, eliminating the need for app extensions. Yet something was still missing. “Where’s the diversity?” asked everyone from Tahj Mowry to Miley Cyrus, addressing the notable lack of non-white cartoon faces.

It looks like Apple has been listening closely to these concerns, with plans to implement a more racially and socially diverse set of emoji for iOS 8.3 later this year. Problem solved? Not quite. As Apple unveils its most recent developer betas, a furor has broken out in China regarding what some regard as a prejudiced depiction of Asians. While one can certainly make a case for this position, Apple claims the startlingly yellow emoji at the heart of the uproar doesn’t depict a normal human face at all.

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This is the most technologically-advanced cat feeder you’ll ever find

Like it or not, cats are pretty much in the fast lane to world domination. They’ve already invaded our homes, taken over the internet, and have even got us going to extreme lengths to give them the very best. Take this new, high-tech cat feeder for example, which not only weighs your cat and keeps track of how much they eat and drink, but, if you have multiple cats, can even recognize each one’s face and allows you to watch them eat in real-time from your phone.

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Students at new online high school in Japan make anime-style avatars for virtual campus

As society and education changes, Japan is slowly opening up to the idea of online high school courses. But while modern technology makes video lessons and email correspondence easy to implement, some things are still lost in the transition to a virtual classroom setting. One major issue is the lack of ability to affirm your own individuality, as well as the increased difficulty of building bonds with other students without any sort of visual representation of their identities.

Hoping to alleviate these problems is a new online high school in Japan that requires students to create anime-style online avatars, and even provides a simulated school campus for them to mingle in.

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Did you know Japan actually provides some of its own supply of this surprising natural resource?

It’s no wonder that nuclear energy has kind of been dominating the news about Japan ever since the March, 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.

As one of Japan’s proudest domestic resources, Japan has long been an advocate for nuclear energy. Even following the 3/11 disaster, many domestic factions still push for even more nuclear energy in a country that largely imports many of its resources.

But there’s at least one more resource that Japan is capable of producing energy domestically and, in fact, it’s been doing just that for a while.

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NTT creates two-dimensional pictures that can move: Harry Potter photographs are now real!

One of my favorite things about the Harry Potter universe was the fact that all the photos and paintings of people moved around on their own. Sure it was only a tiny detail, but it was all those little details of how a wizarding world might actually work coming together that made the final product so amazing.

And now, our muggle world has taken one step closer to Harry’s: NTT, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, recently announced that they’ve developed a way to make normal, printed-out two-dimensional pictures look like they’re moving through a bit of magic of their own.

Well, I only have one thing to say: “You’re a wizard, NTT!”

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