technology

Coca-Cola’s new vending machines don’t need electricity during the day to keep drinks cold

In some ways, the huge amount of vending machines in Japan seems like a win-win situation. In a country that gets incredibly hot and sticky in the summer, it’s nice to never be more than a few minutes’ walk from a cold drink, and for beverage companies like Coca-Cola, the machines are a huge source of income.

That said, all of those vending machines are essentially coin-operated refrigerators, collectively sucking up a huge amount of electricity. In an effort to cut down on their energy consumption, Coca-Cola has developed a new type of unit that spends as much as 16 hours a day not using any electricity at all to keep its products nice and cool.

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Man creates bizarre “HeartCap” helmet to wordlessly convey feelings of love and admiration

I’m sure we’ve all been there: knowing that you’re bound to bump into your crush at some point during the day, you prepare a few witticisms in advance, make sure to brush your teeth extra well and pick out an outfit that strikes the perfect balance between casual and “holy crap I’m sexy”. And then, when the object of your affections comes within a few feet of you, you blurt out some nonsense about having seen a really big pigeon on the way there and manage to spit all over yourself. Oh, just me?

Thankfully, for those who find themselves completely tongue-tied when faced with their dream guy or gal, there’s a new…invention that enables the wearer to express their feelings of admiration without saying a word. And it looks wonderfully ridiculous.

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Sleepy? PC program dispatches anime girl to wake you up with encouragement, angry outbursts

I don’t know if it was because of the layout of the surrounding skyscrapers, the beat-up old boom box we had in the lobby, or just a weak signal from the local broadcaster, but at one of my old jobs, we could never get a clear radio signal. This didn’t mean we had no musical accompaniment while we worked though, just that we had to use CDs. Unfortunately, on many days that meant a constant repeat of the Enya CD my boss would stick in the player.

She may be an award-winning artist, but a selection you could describe as “soothing and ethereal” wasn’t exactly the best choice to help power the staff through our shift. Sometimes I’d see one of my coworkers nodding off in front of his PC monitor, and I’d give him a quick, “Hey, wake up dude,” before our boss noticed.

I’m sure he appreciated the favor, but now technology can perform that same service for you, with a program that’ll send a cute anime girl onto your screen to wake you up if you doze off.

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Crazy new port-o-potty design is the most random thing we’ve seen in a long time

There are all sorts of unwritten etiquette rules around men’s room urinal use. Don’t talk too much, don’t use a urinal next to someone when there are isolated urinals available, don’t compare size, and never, ever, ever make eye contact.

But this insane new port-o-potty design totally ignores all of that, making your odds of peeing next to someone about a 50/50 chance and all but forcing you to gaze into the eyes of another man while you both urinate simultaneously – a situation so specific, unlikely and repulsive that we’re pretty sure there’s not even niche porn for it. And there is niche porn for frikkin’ everything, people.

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Too hot during the blackout? Cool down with an electric fan, veteran newscaster suggests

With more than 25 years of working in broadcast journalism, Japanese newscaster Ichiro Furutachi has turned in plenty of fine on-air performances. Still, each time you go before the cameras you’re spinning that roulette wheel, and it’s only a matter of time until you end up with a flub or two.

Earlier this year, the 59-year-old Furutachi elicited chuckles with his comments that exposed his lack of understanding about PowerPoint. It wasn’t Furutachi’s lack of knowledge regarding the finer points of the ubiquitous presentation software that surprised the public, but rather his admission that he didn’t even know what PowerPoint was.

What’s more, if we take the words of Furutachi’s most recent gaffe literally, it would seem that he’s not just confused about computer programs, but how electricity works, when he suggested using a room fan to stay cool during a blackout…

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Making a “fart cannon” is simple and cheap, says Japanese comedy site

So, farts are still the pinnacle of physical comedy. I mean, they cover all the comedy bases: They’re smelly, they make a funny noise, and they make people around you feel very uncomfortable. Farts are pure genius. Proof that God loves and hates us equally.

But sometimes you want to fart on someone but they’re just a little too far away to reach with your offensive bodily odors, no matter how hard you try to project your poo gas. That’s where the – obviously – Japanese invention of the Fart Cannon comes in. With this simple device, you can launch your fart gas at unsuspecting targets several meters away.

All you need is a box, some tubing, and a willingness to insert said tubing into your anus.

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Stylish web anime from Yamaha reminds us of an important truth: motorcycles are cool

In the beginning, motorized vehicles were designed to be the prefect horse. They’d get you from A to B while allowing you to bypass the bowleggedness and poop shoveling that were inherent parts of equestrian transportation. With time, though, things changed. Cars got bigger and comfier. Plush, roomy interiors designed to isolate passengers from outside sounds and elements moved the design target from the perfect horse to the perfect living room.

So how do you communicate the appeal of a motorcycle to younger people who’ve grown up in these conditions? How do you get them excited about something that sacrifices all of those creature comforts and doesn’t insolate the connection between you, the machine, and the road, but enhances it?

If you’re Yamaha, you create a stylish anime series, and put it on YouTube for all to see.

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Keep your iPhone safe and retro-gamer chic with Famicom protective film

Yesterday, Nintendo’s Famicom, known internationally as the NES, celebrated its 31st birthday. While it may not have been the first video game console, the way Nintendo’s 8-bit system combined, for its time, high-end processing power, pleasing aesthetics, and user-friendliness elevated it to a level above both its predecessors and would-be rivals.

The Famicom was the sort of sweeping, segment-defining success that didn’t come along again until the iPhone took over the smartphone market. Now, you can combine those two iconic pieces of Nintendo and Apple hardware with a Famicom protective film for your iPhone.

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Futuristic tram prototype from Russia draws the envy of commuters worldwide

While dealing with the crowds and the creeps on public transportation may get on your nerves, it is usually the best way to save time and money. And last week, a Russian company unveiled a new futuristic streetcar that would make any weary commuter excited to go to work in the morning.

The next-generation streetcar looks like something out of a sci-fi movie with its trapezoidal shape and sleek black exterior. Click below to read more about the so-called “iPhone on rails” and which lucky cities are getting the tram of tomorrow!

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Despite success abroad, even Sony’s PlayStation 4 can’t inject life into Japan’s console market

There was quite the uproar when Sony announced that it would be releasing its newest console in its homeland months after going on sale in other territories. Judging by the reception the console has received, though, it looks like Sony may have been right to put Japan last when it came to PlayStation 4.

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Everything you think you know about your washlet toilet is wrong

Here at RocketNews24 we love a good toilet story, whether it’s the health benefits of old-school squatters or a visit to a long drop. And the washlet toilet, with its wash-and-blow dry function, noise-masking function and hilariously perplexing control panels, is one of Japan’s most famous inventions.

But what if, just like Napoleon’s height and the Vikings’ spiky helmets, the ultimate icon of technological wizardry is also surrounded by misconception and mystery? What if (almost) everything we know about super-toilets is wrong?

Think you know your washlet? Think again.

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Pokeberu, Mr. Legs, and cho beri ba: Eight Japanese words young people can’t understand

After spending a year in college studying in Tokyo, I moved back to Los Angeles for about two years before coming back to Japan for work. Having always prided myself on my familiarity with Japanese slang (partly to distract myself from my terrible penmanship when writing kanji characters), I was surprised to find out how many new terms had sprung up in just the 22 months I’d been away.

At the same time, it turned out that a few of the vocabulary words I’d picked up while studying abroad had since passed their expiration dates and become obsolete. This wasn’t a one-time transition, either, as language is constantly evolving, and today we bring you a list of eight words that’ll at best make you sound like a senior citizen, and at worst simply won’t be understood by anyone under the age of 25.

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Felinephonic: New cat-ear headphones let you share your sound

Even if you’re more of a dog person, there’s no denying that neko-mimi have a cuteness all of their own. Knowing this, the creative folks over at Axent Wear, an independent startup now just weeks away from launching a Kickstarter campaign, are hoping to bring cat ears into consumers’ lives in a way that is both cute and functional with a product that’s sure to put a smile on your face and spring in your step.

Introducing: Axent Wear cat-ear headphones.

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Honda readying a Fuel Cell Vehicle for buyers next year, just in time to challenge Toyota

Toyota recently announced it plans to begin consumer sales of a Fuel Cell Vehicle sometime around the beginning of 2015, which has the potential to be a huge step towards a more environmentally-friendly system of personal transportation. Rival carmaker Honda isn’t about to let Japan’s largest auto manufacturer have this new field all to itself, though, as it looks to be moving ahead with plans to start selling an FCV of its own within the country that aims to be the class leader in both performance and price.

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Japanese tradition and technology combine to beat the heat with USB uchiwa

One of the essential items for getting through Japan’s hot and humid summer is an uchiwa, or paper fan. With its large surface area and long handle, you can work up more of a breeze with an uchiwa than a dainty folding fan.

Unfortunately, you might work up a bit of a sweat as you furiously fan yourself, which kind of negates the whole purpose of using a fan to begin with. Thankfully, there’s now a way to get around all that manual labor with a USB-powered uchiwa.

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NASA’s new leek-like supersonic jet design would be perfect for Hatsune Miku’s personal plane

I always feel a little sad whenever I stop and think that NASA’s Space Shuttles are no longer in service. For decades, they served as symbols not only for the pioneering spirit of their mission crews, but for NASA itself, an organization that serves as a gathering point for some of the brightest and boldest scientific minds on the planet.

NASA hasn’t completely gotten out of the high-tech transportation field, though, as it’s moving ahead with a project to develop a supersonic passenger jet. As impressive as its specs are, though, it looks like something quite a bit more down to earth: a root vegetable.

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We test our iPhone’s new protective sheet against the legendary sword Excalibur

The touchscreen is both the greatest and most annoying part of a smartphone. On the plus side, you’ve got clear images, vibrant colors, and the simplicity that comes from bypassing a bunch of buttons and menus. At the same time, though, you’ve also got to deal with unsightly scratches and cracks.

We recently heard about a new protective sheet that’s supposed to be able to withstand almost any kid of abuse, so we put it to the test against a variety of damaging instruments including what one shopkeeper told us was the legendary sword Excalibur.

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Emergency services get prank phone call–but was it the wind…or ghosts?

Summer’s here, and that means it’s time to gather your friends and head to a haunted house to scare the heat out of yourself. But maybe you’re a really tough guy or girl, and nothing like a few kids dressed up as zombies is going to give you a fright. You need a real ghost to help cool you down.

Too bad ghosts aren’t real, right? Well, after reading this story, you might not be so sure…

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Got a cell phone? Soon, you might get a tax bill from the Japanese government too

It’s only been a few months since Japan’s consumption tax jumped from five to eight percent, making everything consumers buy instantly at least three percent more expensive. Some sneaky retailers even took advantage of the opportunity by tacking an extra three percent onto their displayed, pre-tax prices.

Now comes a rumor of an entirely new revenue stream the Japanese government might be moving to secure: a tax on cell phones.

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Cheaters beware – 30 percent of Japanese women have checked their boyfriend’s cell phone

What are the requirements of a happy romantic relationship? A set of shared values is important if you’re looking for anything more substantial than a fun fling. On the other end of the scale, common interests are good to have too, for those lighter dates when you and your partner want to do something other than discuss your life philosophies.

Many people would say the most critical element, though, is trust. After all, no matter how attracted you might be to a person, without the ability to trust one another, your collective jealousy and insecurity will eventually poison any potential you have to be happy together. Of course, building that trust can be a long, difficult, and sometimes scary process, but it’s something you eventually have to do, right?

Not if you’re one of the roughly 30 percent of Japanese women who’ve secretly checked the messages on their boyfriends’ cell phones.

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