The world-famous Hello Kitty has hit the big 40. To celebrate such a major milestone, Pioneer Electronics have come up with a new portable sound system in collaboration with the birthday queen.

The X-SMC01KT is compatible with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR for wireless use with smartphones and tablets and can be used to charge iPods, iPhones, and iPads. If you use the Pioneer Wireless Streaming app, you can even play around by adding effects or changing the tempo of the music.

The cute speakers, priced at around ¥26,000, can also play CDs and music from other devices via USB, as well as tune into AM and FM radios.


Small, smart and emotional Robi Jr.

Takara Tomy has been making personal robots since 1983, introducing its first Omnibot during the ’80s. Now the company has announced that it will add a new robot to the Omnibot series in January.

The next-generation entertainment addition is called Robi Jr. and is equipped with a “human-emotion sensor.” It comes with an in-house-developed system that specializes in human communication and allows Robi Jr. to recognize human speech and respond as well as make a variety of human-like gestures.

A tiny robot at 20-cm tall and with a 17-cm arm span, Robi Jr. can use more than 1,000 Japanese phrases and express its own emotions with 10 different colors via its LED eyes. It’s priced at ¥15,000.


Where there’s a Whill, there’s a way

The personal mobility device Whill, aimed to aid people with disabilities, is a sleek four-wheel-drive chair that can not only navigate bumpy streets but also particularly difficult terrain, such as a sandy beach.

The device began as a crowd-funded project back in 2011, with creators raising the money to build a prototype for that year’s Tokyo Motor Show. An initial 50 units have now been made and shipped to users in Japan and the U.S.

In Japan, the company plans to sell the Whill via retail stores such as Mitsukoshi department stores.

Whill Type-A is currently available in black and white for ¥ 950,000, and certain specifications — such as the angle of your seat or the height of foot rest — can be customized to fit the rider.


A toothbrush with a twist

If you cannot do without a few cups of coffee per day, this toothbrush from Omron might just be an essential item for you. Planned to hit the market on Nov. 20, the new electric sonic toothbrush HT-B307 comes with a head that sports ultra-thin spiral bristles that are designed to remove nasty stains.

The brush was codeveloped by Omron and toothpaste manufacturer Colgate, and its spiraled parts have proven more effective than regular bristles. It also vibrates every 30 seconds to remind you to move on to cleaning the next section of your teeth.

It is rechargeable, taking 10 hours for full charge, and with two-minute brushing, twice a day, the battery can last up to seven days.

The HT-B307 is available now for around ¥5,000.


The night is drier than you think

Although Japan is known for its summer humidity, according to electronics company Mitsubishi Denki, the country goes through a longer period of dryness — especially indoors. That’s why the company has manufactured a low-temperature facial steam machine called SH-JX1.

According to the company’s research, 80 percent of people in Japan have suffered problems caused by dry air at night. The new facial humidifier solves this by emitting steam directly on your face while sleeping.

The amount of moisture the skin retains is increased by 1.5 times after using SH-JX1, and the device also moisturizes the throat and nose, which helps prevent viruses from lingering.

Available in white and pink, the SH-JX1 is energy efficient — 8 hour usage costs around ¥21 — and is priced at around ¥30,000.


In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.