Mapple goes for coupons

Recently, Japan has seen a rise in tourists, making a market for helpful apps for sightseers. Mapple’s free DigJapan! travel app, originally released for Tokyo, then Osaka and Kyoto, already lists and maps popular sightseeing spots and numerous useful stores and restaurants. This month, it has added a new feature — discount coupons from various participating restaurants and stores.

Information is updated seasonally, and it’s all downloadable for reference when you’re unable to get a wifi connection.

Mapple has also said that by July it plans to add Sapporo, Yokohama, Fukuoka, Mount Fuji and Furano to its list of areas covered.


The ultimate Walkman

Apple may have stolen the portable music market from Sony, but it hasn’t stopped the Walkman from attempting a high-tech comeback. Sony’s flagship high-class Walkman NW-ZX2 was released on Feb. 14 for an astonishing ¥120,000 — the highest price yet for a Walkman.

What is the consumer paying for? This MP3 player boasts high-resolution audio (also known as high definition or HD audio), which plays music at what Sony call “studio sound” quality. It can even digitally enhance compressed files to play at a better quality.

With a maximum play time of 33 hours of HD audio files, plus bluetooth compatibility for wireless headphones, this is a serious piece of gear for the music lover.

The aluminum body has also been designed to be slim and light, and all its components have been designed to enhance sound. Complete with a 128 GB microSD memory card slot, users can load it with around 1,700 Hi-Res Audio tunes.


Ditch the SLR for your phone

Who would want to carry around a heavy SLR camera when they could take just as good photos with their phone?

Olympus has joined Sony in releasing an attachable interchangeable lens that will turn your smartphone into a far better quality megapixel camera. Slated for Japan only from March 6, the Olympus Air A01, can be attached to any smart phone and allows users to take 16-megapixel images, edit them via an app and upload them to social media.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is that the Olympus Air A01 is also an open-source project, meaning that its software development kit and 3-D data is available online at opc.olympus-imaging.com, so developers can continually suggest improvements and create new apps and accessories.

The Olympus Air A01 body with a 14-42 mm lens is priced at ¥53,784 and will only be available at the Olympus online store.


Is there happiness in the cloud?

It seems logical that a happy worker will be a productive one, and Hitachi High-Technologies have tapped into this theory with its latest piece of wearable technology.

Designed to monitor the physical behavior of the wearer, these slim credit-card sized sensors are to be worn by members of a group. Data on each individual’s movements is collated on cloud-based servers before being analyzed to assess the general mood of the whole group — information Hitachi believes can help companies to monitor their management activities and organization productivity.

Exactly how happiness is quantified hasn’t been revealed, but the device can monitor groups in realtime and will be a subscription service for companies.


Working on your apps

JointApps — a free Android app that aims to give kids a basic understanding of application programming has made a particularly useful addition to its set of tools — maps.

Created by the digital content school Digital Hollywood, JointApps allows users without any programming experience to make and design an app using building blocks of actions. The new map kit lets kids add maps, which can be used for navigation or pinning information.

Anyone who makes an app can then share it within the JointApps online community. There are also workshop starter kits for educators and, until March 13, various places in Tokyo will be running free workshops to celebrate the release of the new map kit. For more information, visit the website.


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