Climbing Mount Fuji is a right of passage that comes with a price tag. Just breathing at that elevated altitude is a challenge. Technology offers a solution, at a cost, with canned oxygen. An object of some ridicule during the climb’s early stages, it is a blessed relief near the top. Now, strutting around Tokyo in summer might not be in the same league but here too relief from the elements comes in a can. Strapya has created a portable air conditioning spray in a 220 ml aerosol can. Deploying the chemical cocktail, which includes ethanol, so smokers beware, on your clothing makes you feel like you just stepped into winter. They are available for 600 yen from online retailer Rakuten.
Fans of the old ways: Elecom sticks to tradition for putting the mercury in its place — using electricity to generate a cooling breeze. Its latest trio of stylishly designed USB-powered fans might not be a lot of cold air but at least they can take the edge off as you sweat away at your computer. They are priced at 1,155 yen, 1,260 yen and 1,890 yen with more information available at: www.elecom.co.jp/news/200705/fan-u/
No peeping: Sports equipment manufacturer Cramer Japan is looking to take the heat out of a very different situation with its “ShotGuard.” It claims that its infrared-blocking underwear for female athletes make it impossible for somebody to take see-through pictures of the ladies. Once more technology has to step in to right human frailties. Reportedly infrared-blocking breast pads are next on the drawing board to deal with those too-candid snapshots. The company’s Web site is at: www.cramer.co.jp/
Who needs to cook?: Perhaps figuring out how to cook rice without actually having to cook it didn’t feature too highly on the researchers’ to-do list. Nonetheless one group made the breakthrough and the result is a new nonperishable food pack, dubbed, not overly originally, “Hotto! Raisu.” In a nutshell it uses a chemical reaction to produce hot rice from the nonintuitive addition of cold water. The trick was to subject rice to 4,000 times normal atmospheric pressure. By doing this the developers were able to preserve the rice for long periods in a soft form that retains moisture. When the cold water is poured over an exothermic agent in the food pack, the chemical reaction produces steam that heats up the rice and about 15 minutes later hot comes from cold. The product carries a price tag of 10,000 yen for 30 packs with pickled ume plums with more information available at: www.hotrice.jp/sample/
What a blast: While the unusual rice cooking method might have value as a source of hot food in an emergency, it is hard to esteem the exploding USB hub as anything but entertainment. Basically it is a standard four-port USB hub decked out with lights and dials to make it look like a bomb, including a suitably menacing red detonation button. Connect it up, throw the switches, survive the countdown and it lets off an explosive sound effect, minus the circuit-threatening pyrotechnics. Again, we have Strapya to thank for this. Yours for 5,250 yen from Rakuten, and it works with both Windows and Macs. Details are available at: item.rakuten.co.jp/keitai/282-jibaku-069413/
Bigger is better: The makers of flash memory cards won’t be offering to mediate a truce in the mega pixel war among camera makers anytime soon. Local company Link is responding to the need for ever-larger capacity cards with a plan to import three new high-capacity SDHC cards made by Microdia. The 4/52x class cards will come in 4- and 8-gigabyte capacities; the 4/82x cards in 4-, 8- and economy-size 16-gigabyte sizes, as will the top-of-the-line 6/160x class cards, which work at around 24 megabytes per second. The cards will be available in Japan from this month. Microdia:’s Web site is at: www.microdia.com/ebiz/jsp/site/index.jsp
Getting a feel for fido: Many Japanese may love their pets but competing with video games and even robots for our limited attention spans is no doubt a high-stress lifestyle. Fortunately technology is doing more than just craft replacements for our non-bipedal friends. Medical Life Care Giken, lifecare-giken.co.jp/, is addressing the issue with a patch that it claims can measure the stress levels of cats and dogs, just like the ones it offers for people. Stemming from studies that have linked sweat production to stress, the pin-sized patch goes on your pet’s paw and changes color based on how much sweat it detects, allowing you to figure out your pet’s mood. If your little darling is on its way to becoming a basket case then perhaps the answer is a bit of civilization — air conditioning.