|

Latest in apps, toys and gadgets

by Yukari Mitsuhashi

Go with the Floe in the bath tub

After a long, hard day, taking a relaxing bath surrounded by atmospheric lighting and soothing music would be a great way to relieve stress, if it wasn’t for the fact you need to find and light candles, place them in a safe place and then crank up the stereo so it can be heard in the bathroom. For a high-tech, far simpler solution, Century’s bluetooth speaker Floe comes in handy.

This cone-shaped speaker plays music from your smartphone or tablet from a distance of up to 30 meters and is lit by LED lights that switch through the colors of the rainbow or can be set at a calming blue. Best of all, it’s waterproof and designed to bob like a mini buoy in the bath with you.

Floe is priced at ¥7,538, and takes AA batteries or can be charged from a USB port. Fully charged, it can play music up to eight hours, so you can spend as long as you like in the tub.

www.century.co.jp/products/zak/zak/cbtsp-aqs.html

Don’t throw out those CDs

We used to buy CDs when it came to collecting music, but in this age of digital downloads, iTunes, tablets, smartphones and the like, those discs are probably now gathering dust somewhere in a closet. But not everything is available online and if you still want to digitize your hard copies onto a smartphone without booting up your computer first, Japanese manufacturer I-O Data has come up with something to make the process easy.

CD Reco looks like a portable CD player and it connects to your smartphone via WiFi. To import music you use a dedicated app, and it takes seven to 10 minutes to transfer a CD of 12 songs. Song titles and artist names are also pulled up automatically using an online music database. Planned to hit market in late August, it is priced at ¥10,778.

www.iodata.jp/product/storage/cd/cdri-w24ai

Talking in pictures

Chatty ironically helps people learn English without them actually chatting in person. Released by Rarejob, a company known for its Skype-based English language learning platform, this app aims to help students learn English “without speaking.” Instead it has users communicating with both texts and words displayed as picture icons.

Learners converse with real English teachers who are available 24/7, which means you can even study during breaks or your commute. Unlike the company’s Skype English lessons, which are available for a monthly fee of ¥5,800 for 25 minutes of lessons every day, Chatty can be used for free.

Japanese people are known for their hesitancy and lack of confidence when speaking English, so by getting people interested through casual conversation in a more comfortable way could help Rarejob expand its user base from its current 250,000 people to far more.

chatty-r.com

Digital photos for kids

Japanese toy manufacturer Takara Tomy has released Decora Palette, a digital camera aimed at kids aged 8 and over. But this is not just a simple camera to take pictures with — it comes with fun features that can alter images and add decorative stamps in a similar way that Japanese purikura sticker-photo booths can.

Though they’ve seen a bit of a decline lately, purikura booths are still hugely popular in Japan, and now many mobile apps, such as Decopic and Snapee, copy their style of cute image manipulation. Decora Palette, however, is for kids who are too young to go to a purikura booth alone and who probably don’t yet own a smartphone. The camera has more than 700 decorative stamps and frames, and the photos can be saved on an SD card, so that they can be printed on computers or at photo shops.

Decora Palette is available in three colors (pink, blue and black) and is priced at ¥9,980, not including the SD card.

www.takaratomy.co.jp/products/decorapalette

Ready for lunch in 20 mins?

If you work in Tokyo’s Shibuya or Roppongi, you may want to download Bento.jp to your iPhone. With just a few taps, Bento.jp can get a freshly cooked lunch delivered to your door in a matter of 20 minutes.

Released in April, Bento.jp has been actively collaborating with different brands such as the popular brain-training game BrainWars and the recipe site Cookpad. Just recently, it introduced new bentos (lunch box) to its menu, all of which have been made using popular recipes on Cookpad.

Bento.jp also has a company benefit program, which many startups in the Shibuya region are already actively using. Depending on the amount of money a company chooses to pay the service, employees can enjoy lunch for ¥500 instead of the regular price of ¥800.

bento.jp

  • Chandrakant Kulkarni

    ‘These are the few of my Favorite Things!’