Time to watch out for those kids


Get ready to answer the cat phone

Aimed at kids — or even adults who love all things kawaii (cute) — the Hello Kitty Figurine KT-01 smartphone, created by Japanese startup Ola, is just as the name suggests: a cute palm-sized figurine that flips open to become a mobile phone.

Inside, it has a color screen and bright red buttons, and when in use, its Sanrio-approved apps are all Hello Kitty themed.

As a smartphone, it is limited on functions — you can only call and text with it — but it does have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s also Sim-free, which means you can use it with other networks, though you will have to sign an initial network contract when you buy it.

The Hello Kitty Figurine KT-01 comes out in April for ¥12,920 and is already available for pre-order.

Ola: olainc.jp/KT01

Time to watch out for those kids

The Apple Watch is an expensive gadget for adults, but that won’t stop children being fascinated by them — and, actually, giving a phone watch to a child is not such a bad idea. Mobile phones can help parents keep track of a kid’s whereabouts and if it’s strapped to the wrist, he or she is unlikely to lose it.

Telephone network KDDI’s Mamorino watch, therefore, is a handy, and thankfully inexpensive, device. It has a touch screen and voice-recognition control, so children can simply tell it to “call Mom.” It’s also waterproof, dirt-proof, shock resistant and has a personal alarm function — all particularly useful considering what kids can get up to. Not only this, but parents can download the Mamorino Watch Navi app, which allows them to GPS-track their child as well as call them, send texts and sound the watch’s alarm.

The Mamorino watch will be released at the end of March. It comes in three colors — pink, blue and green — and uses the 4G LTE network to make voice calls, with a monthly charge of ¥1,077 a month. The price of the watch itself is to be announced soon.

KDDI: bit.ly/mamorino

Taiyo Enex cranks up its survival radio light

Disaster-related goods maker Taiyo Enex has released an all-in-one hand-crank light, radio, smartphone and computer recharger — complete with a siren.

The Petit Thunder’s built-in light can run for up to 30 hours after 15 cranks of the handle, while the radio can run for three hours. It also comes with a USB cable so you can charge a smartphone or computer — though at 3 percent for an iPhone 5 and 2 percent for an iPhone 6, you’ll need to crank the handle a fair bit more than 15 times. To turn on the siren, you simply hold down the light button for a few seconds.

This may be an emergency device, but it’s also small enough to be a useful gadget to have around when there’s no power outlet nearby.

The Petit Thunder costs ¥4,298. Links to outlets that sell it can be found on the Taiyo Enex website.

Taiyo Enex: bit.ly/petitthunder