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Techie ways to document life and have a little fun

by Yukari Mitsuhashi

Turn a broomstick into a guitar

Keeping up with children’s demands for toys is an endless task. For young kids, what’s a new favorite toy one day could very well be thrown aside the next. So Moff’s claim that it can transform anything that a child is holding into a toy should be a draw for parents.

Equipped with an acceleration sensor and gyroscope, the Moff takes the form of a silicon-covered wearable wristband. It detects movement of the wearer’s arm and sends a signal to an iPhone or tablet, which then provides sound effects chosen by the wearer. This means kids can turn ordinary household objects into whatever their imaginations come up with. A pencil could be a magic wand, a broom can become a guitar and much more.

The Moff uses Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth Smart) and users choose sound effects via an app. This is currently a Kickstarter project, with a team in Osaka working to ship out the initial lot this coming summer. There are still two weeks left to pledge, with pledges starting at $49 (around ¥5,000), which includes shipping to Japan and the United States.

www.moff.mobi

Small camera for big films

Japanese video-equipment manufacturer Elmo has released QBiC MS-1, a tiny super-wide-angle video camera that can be easily connected to your smartphone over Wi-Fi.

With a 185-degree diagonal view, this new wearable camera allows you to film anything from animals in the wild to closeups of your kids’ expressions in full HD (1080p/60fps).

Using the dedicated QBiC App, available for both iOS and Android, you can use your smartphone to control the camera remotely and live stream footage, as well as view, alter and share clips directly to social networking services.

At just 93 grams and 40 mm thick, the QBiC MS-1 is a great on-the-go gadget and comes in a stylish pearl white. It costs ¥26,040 and can be purchased at Elmo’s online store.

www.elmoqbic.com/index_ja.html

Picture this — photo chatting

Following the popularity of apps such as SnapChat, there is now some hype surrounding the so-called self-destructing photo-message market. Japan’s tech giant Mixi recently threw its hat in the ring with its new mobile app Muuk.

Muuk is designed for sending photos to close friends in a conversation-like exchange. Like similar apps, an opened photo will disappear from the phone after a few seconds, so you’d better pay attention and perhaps try not to blink! What differentiates Muuk from its competitors is that when you use the app to take a photo, it also automatically takes a selfie (with the front-facing camera) which it then overlays over the image you took with the rear camera. You can then send the composite photo to friends. Mixi says this makes the experience closer to actually chatting with others, allowing them to see not only the user, but also what he or she is doing.

Muuk is free and available for download at the Japanese App Store and on Google Play.

itunes.apple.com/jp/app/id792648777 play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.muuk

Touch and swipe a website

To make a website, you once needed to hire a professional, but thanks to a number of DIY services, anyone can create a simple personal website with a just a few mouse clicks and keystrokes. Lolipotouch promises even less work for the user, saying that all you need is to lift a finger to launch a new website.

A free iPad app developed by Japanese web-hosting service company Paperboy & Co., the Lolipotouch allows users to build a website by just tapping and swiping a touch screen. All you need is a photo to be the cover image of the website.

For now the app is available for iOS, but the company has plans to release an Android version in the future.

lolipotouch.com

Sony’s farewell VAIO

Sony is unveiling its new VAIO 2014 Spring model, which will be the very last computer manufactured by the company. At the beginning of February, Sony announced that it would be closing its computer division and selling it off to a Japanese investment firm.

Scheduled to hit market on March 8, the VAIO Fit 11A and 13A run on Windows 8.1 and are equipped with Office Home and Business 2013 as well as Adobe Photoshop Elements 12. The high-resolution displays are 11.6 inch and 13.3 inch respectively and they both have a 12-hour battery life.

By flipping the screen, the laptop conveniently transforms into a tablet, and with Photoshop Elements 12 onboard, it’s a good choice for those who often work with images.

The VAIO Fit can be customized with prices starting at around ¥145,000.

www.sony.jp/vaio/products/mfa1/