Digital | ON: TECH

Wearable tech for the summer

by Chiho Komoriya

Orphe encourages you to dance in the dark

No New Folk Studio’s prototype of its Orphe “smart footwear” was well-received last year, when its Indiegogo campaign raised more than 200 percent of its target. Now, the sneakers are finally available for pre-order via Isetan’s online Mistore.

In the daytime Orphe look like regular sneakers, but in the dark, they become something far better. Each sole has around 100 LEDs that can be controlled by 9-axis inertial motion sensors. In simple terms: the soles glow different colors depending on movement of the feet or the music you happen to be playing. All this can be customized by Orphe’s Scene app, which also allows users to share information on the internet.

Orphe may seem gimicky and something that only performers would be interested in, but there are other applications of the sneakers that make them an interesting concept. The colors can be customized, they can glow in time to music, and they can be programmed to have movement trigger sounds so that your feet can be used as an instrument. Orphe are even versatile enough to be used as controllers for interactive games or art installations.

To encourage more creative applications, Orphe is also offering free software development kits and a platform for developers to share their ideas.

Orphe sneakers will be available in black or white and are priced at ¥44,712. The shipping date is set for the middle of August.

Mouse bling

Sanwa Supply’s new mouse ring is a lightweight gadget that’s handy for those who work on the go and anyone who needs to give their hands a rest from a desktop device.

The Ring Mouse 2 is worn on the index finger and controlled by the thumb. It is wireless, which makes it good for those who like to lounge on a sofa and use a computer as a TV screen. It’s also great for people who need free hands when giving presentations.

The central button moves the cursor by swiping with the thumb, while the four periphery buttons allow you to right-click, drag-and-drop, scroll and go back on web pages. There are also two cursor control speeds, which you can choose by holding the scroll button for a few seconds.

About the size of a large statement ring, the Ring Mouse 2 weighs just 9.6 grams and is recharged via a USB cable. It’s available at most electronics stores, priced at ¥5,480.

A slightly geeky way to keep cool

This is possibly one of the daftest sounding devices, but not such a bad one considering the heat and humidity of the Japanese summer. The Waki no Shita Kura by Thanko is a portable air conditioner designed to keep sweaty armpits dry. Essentially, it’s a tiny fan that clips on to edge of a short-sleeved shirt and fans directly into the armpit. But just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

The size of a slightly fat business-card holder, it’s not particularly discreet, but at 30 grams, it’s light enough to clip securely to a T-shirt. Two triple-A batteries will give you between five to nine hours of fanning, and it also works while attached to a mobile battery pack (though you’d need find a slim one to slip into your top pocket). You’ll need a set of two Waki no Shita Kura, priced at ¥3,800 for armpits, but they’re also available individually for ¥1,980.