Digital | ON: TECH

Home and life improvements

by Chiho Komoriya

Fancy cleaning

As the season of spring cleaning looms, U.S. electronics company Shark has come up with something quite elaborate to brighten such a mundane house chore.

Shark Ninja CEO Gordon Thom is the man behind one of the fanciest handheld vacuums around. During the 1980s Thom, then a diplomat in Japan, met a member of the Gagyu family, which established its Utsutsugawa-yaki pottery kiln in the 17th century. So impressed was Thom by the Gagyu family’s unusual technique involving hand-brushed motifs and brilliantly glossy glazes that now, 30 years later, he initiated a collaboration between Shark Ninja and the 14th Gagyu successor.

The result is a series of four Evopower handheld vacuum cleaners hand decorated in Gagyu designs representing the four seasons, these include the family’s signature egret, cherry blossom, cranes and the milky way.

These are limited editions, though, with only 48 being made. So, to get one, priced at ¥22,680, you’ll need to apply via the Shark Ninja website by Feb. 28. And if too many people order, they’ll be distributed by lottery. If you’re luck, you’ll find out you’re a winner early March, just in time for that spring clean.

Shark Ninja: www.shark.co.jp/gagyu (Japanese only)

Avoid the ‘hangry’ pet

Does your pet like to be fed at the most inconvenient times? Or do you find it tricky to find someone to feed your pet when you need to be away for a few days? Gadget-maker and importer G-Force’s Wagwag, a new brand of pet gadgets, could be just what you need.

Automatic feeders aren’t new, but the Wagwag one is a little different from others on the market. Unlike most feeders, which usually only dispense one kind of dry food from a single container, the Wagwag feeder has a rotating dish with five compartments that allow pet owners to fill it with different foods, including moist tinned ones.

The Wagwag feeder’s dish rotates on a timer to reveal each compartment at its opening. It can also play a recorded message, so your pet can hear a familiar voice calling when it’s feeding time. Though it runs off the mains, you can also use C batteries, which serve as a backup if your power supply fails — handy if you have to be away for a few days.

To complement the feeder, Wagwag has also released a 3-liter water fountain with a nano silver sterilization filter that keeps water fresh and free of bacteria, fungi and viruses. An added detail is a compartment atop the tank, which can be used as a pot for cat grass or as a feeding bowl. Priced at ¥11,880 for the feeder and ¥7,020 for the water fountain, they’re not cheap, but if you’re having trouble keeping the schedule of your pet love, surely it’s worth it.

Wagwag: bitcle.jp/index.html (Japanese only)

Walk for your money

There are plenty of apps that can record the number of steps you have walked in a day. But what do you do with that information, aside from keep track of your daily exercise? And how does that encourage you to keep on walking?

Agoop, a communications and information services subsidiary of Softbank, has come up with WalkCoin, the novel idea of using steps to earn currency. Admittedly, this is digital currency that can only be exchanged for entry into a lottery, but it could help encourage you to exercise a little more. For every 6,000 steps in a day, users receive one coin, with possible bonuses for higher achievements within a week. For every 10 coins, the user can enter a lottery, which currently has Amazon coupon prizes, the top being for ¥10,000.

WalkCoin also has a calorie counter and a journal feature, making it as useful as other pedometer apps, just with a little extra incentive.

WalkCoin: bit.ly/walkcoin

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