Digital | IGADGET

Gadgets to the rescue — vibrating pillow curbs snoring; toothbrush tracks your hygiene habits

by Peter Crookes

Snoring is like the common cold — they both prove that the world’s scientists are clueless about what is important in life. Rather than building a better spaceship, how about just removing these banes from our lives? Francebed, the name of which is only half truthful as it is the moniker of a Japanese sleep furniture company, is stepping in where the Nobel Prize coveters fear to take their slide rules. It has developed a vibrating pillow that is intended to reduce a user’s snoring. The pillow packs a snore detection sensor rigged up to an internal vibrating mechanism. When the sensor picks up snoring, the pillow vibrates, presumably to get you to alter your position. It includes a microphone jack so you can record your snoring sounds, a winning idea if ever there was one, to check how well the pillow functioned. I would have thought anybody within hearing range of you could do that. The pillow is slated for release in September with a price tag of 29,800 yen with more information available at www.francebed.co.jp/. Perhaps most importantly at that price it’s also a comfortable foam pillow so you can get to sleep without too much of a struggle. After all, it can hardly help you cut your snoring if you never get to doze off in the first place. But then again . . .

The beauty game: It is no secret that males dominate the market for video games. Boys just have to have toys. Konami has an upcoming game for the Nintendo DS Lite aimed firmly at redressing the balance. Its Dream Skincare, due out on Oct. 18, is not so much a game, however, as a digital beauty adviser. Created by Chizu Saiki, who apparently is something of an expert, it is definitely not for the regular gaming crowd, if you will forgive the sexist overtones. It shuns the usual button game controls and instead relies on using a stylus. The game checks your physical and emotional health each day via a series of questions. You input your body temperature and weight each day, as well as a daily schedule. A record of your daily meals is also input, in return for which you get dietary advice and healthy recipes. You can also designate “special days,” such as first dates, for which a special skin care regime will be created. The game also includes a face map that shows where you are prone to get pimples and wrinkles. Now while I am sure this will be terribly useful to members of at least one gender, I still wonder where the fun comes in. Those who think games should be good for you can find out more at www.watch.impress.co.jp/game/docs/20070614/konami.htm

On the clock: Brushing your teeth is a) good for you and b) something you need to get regular lectures on. I was once advised sagely to brush for at least three minutes a time if I aspired to proper dental hygiene. These days I usually manage that on the rare occasions when I am feeling unusually pious or a nagging pain has me in fear of the need to visit the dentist. Oral-B takes both a) and b) seriously with its new toothbrush, the Oral-B Triumph with SmartGuide. The twist with this is that it connects wirelessly to an LCD display that you can leave on the washstand. This informs you of how long you have been brushing, making it a relatively easy way to keep tabs on how good you are. Of course you could just check your watch but I guess one advantage of this gadget is that having taken the financial plunge to buy it, pangs of guilt will drive you to make use of it. Not to mention that the glaring eye of the display is going to be more difficult to avoid than your watch. Clock watchers can get more information at www.oralb.com/us/products/power/

Silence is golden: Teeth safely taken care of, Thanko is looking after our ears with its latest contribution to the noise-reduction craze. The less than elegantly named Kaiteki De Phone EX headphones are meant to cut out the background noise, while you focus on something more important, like brushing your teeth. The headphones cost 3,980 yen, with information available at thanko.jp/noisecaheadex/

Keeping an ear out: Logitec is addressing the other side of the privacy divide with its latest gadget, the LIC-TRA056SD. This is an MP3 voice recorder that you can plug directly into your telephone so that you can record those pearls of conversation. It come equipped with 128 megabytes of flash memory, enough for 50 hours of talking. Logitec has all the specs at www.logitec.co.jp/press/2007/0613_02.html

Frilly night out: Staying on the public side of phone usage are some new cell phone straps. The bra and panty outfits do a good job of replicating the look of the sexy lingerie they portray and are made of real lace and nylon. The accessories for the person about town are available at www.strapya-world.com/categories/12_55_3199.html with a price tag of 1,029 yen each.

Star gazers: Strapya forsakes sin and looks to the heavens for a very different contribution to the cell phone strap. This is a miniature version of the HomeStar, Sega Toys’ home planetarium, HomeStar, that was a hit product last year. Making sure the copy is a bonafide one, the HomeStar’s designer crafted this one that is small enough to hang from your keys, laptop bag or, naturally, your cell phone. Powered by a CR1220 battery, you just flick the switch, gaze through the heavens and another world awaits you. The gadget is available at item.rakuten.co.jp/keitai/146-745492/ for 840 yen.

Big is better: Forsaking the trend for USB keys modeled on food items or cute characters, Transcend has stuck to the basic pursuit of size with its new JetFlash V85 8-gigabyte key. Weighing in at a miserly 15 grams and measuring a shade under 5 cm in length, the key does sport an eye-catching silver finish. More information is available at www.transcendusa.com/Products/

Weighty issue: Pet owners seem incapable of appreciating their dogs for what they are and instead try to remake them in their own image. Unfortunately, this includes our propensity to eat ourselves into an early demise, or at least a serious curtailing of the enjoyment of life. Kao is stepping into the canine battle of the bulge with a device for measuring your pooch’s body fat. Just hold it against your dog’s flesh and the device will tell you just how much it is like a real person. Those who think our best friends shouldn’t miss out on the joys of dieting can get more information at www.kao.co.jp/corp/news/2006/1/n20060323-01re.html. Perhaps video game makers can turn their imaginations to a diet and beauty game for canines . . .