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Today's modern home helpers

by Chiho Komoriya

Robotic window wiping

For anyone who despises housework, robot home helpers are a blessing. Everyone knows iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaner, perhaps you’ve even heard of the same company’s Braava floor mop. But what about a robot window cleaner?

Robotically cleaning vertical surfaces doesn’t sound viable, but gadget company Thanko has released Windy, and compared to most robot helpers its being sold at a reasonably cheap price of ¥29,800. This little robot uses suction power created by its motor to secure itself to a window, and then, much like other cleaning gadgets, it uses sensors to detect the edges of window panes. It can run automatically, moving on to the next section each time it reaches an edge, or manually by a remote controller, and it takes 2.4 minutes to clean 1 square meter. Though it needs to be plugged into the mains, if the cord does fall out mid-cleaning, it has a backup battery to ensure it doesn’t drop off the window.

The Windy is available from Thanko’s online store and comes with two kinds of detachable pads — one for wet wiping and another for dry wiping.

A sweet VR headset

So far, VR head mount displays have either been large, bulky and expensive gadgets, or simple, short-term cardboard solutions. The Caramel VR sold by Moji, however, is not only cheap at ¥1,080, it’s also lightweight at 49 grams, is made from durable plastic and folds into a neat square package about the size of a tape measure.

Users can watch Google Cardboard 360-degree panoramic videos and other VR applications through the Caramel VR, which can be attached to any 4-6-inch smartphone, including the iPhone 6 and 7 Plus.

The Caramel VR is being sold by Moji via


Online parenting

Parenting is never easy, but for those new to it, it can be particularly stressful and even lonely. There are so many questions and unknowns, that unless you happen to be close to a community of other new parents, the experience can initially be isolating and confusing.

Web developers Medicalnet have addressed this by launching Moopen, an open child-care SNS app designed to help parents support each other with online advice and encouragement. Aimed at new mothers, the app allows members to post personal experiences, share photographs, methods of child rearing, recipes for children’s meals and more — much like a Facebook for parents. In addition to providing a platform for parents, however, Moopen offers photocontests, with themes such as “How do you store baby clothing,” and questionnaires to help gather information on childcare tips.

Available in Japanese only, the app is free to download via iTunes or Google Play, with users’ posts also available on the Moopen website for anyone to view. ITunes: