Hello, smart kitty

With so many automated home appliances available, turning your smart phone into a universal remote control can be really handy — and there have been plenty of companies making products to cater to that need. Most of these have designed their home hubs to be as small and inconspicuous as possible. Ratoc Systems’ latest release, however, has turned its palm-sized RS-WFirex4 hub into a cute room accessory.

Released by SoftBank’s SB C&S company, via Amazon Japan for ¥8,640, the Hello Kitty RS-WFirex4 is a limited-edition collaboration to celebrate the character goods company Sanrio’s 45th anniversary. Admittedly, the collaboration simply involves emblazoning the palm-sized device with the iconic features of Hello Kitty, but it’s a good excuse to mention the device itself, a relatively recent release from Ratoc Systems.

The RS-WFirex4 is for homes with infrared remote controlled home appliances. It supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled speakers and Siri shortcuts, which means you can voice control most appliances, such as the TV, air conditioner, lights, fans and works with more with more than 400 types of remote controls.

Not only this, but the gadget is connected to the cloud and has temperature, humidity and light sensors, so users can check room conditions and adjust appliances from outside the home.

All this in a 4.5 centimeter-square Hello Kitty-themed device.


Keep an eye on the dot

It’s the beginning of the school year in Japan, with many kids starting elementary school and their parents giving them a little independence, perhaps for the first time. For those whose kids are also walking to school alone, it can be a nerve-racking time of the year. If parents need reassurance, but their kids are too young to own a mobile phone, Sourcenext’s FamilyDot — a rechargeable GPS device that can be attached to schoolbags — allows them to check the location of their children when needed.

The FamilyDot app tracks movements using GPS, but it can also pinpoint a location based on nearby Wi-Fi access points. This means that even if it goes underground, you’ll still see movement. It can also track the speed of its wearer and send notifications of the child’s progress to your phone.

It can be used in 71 countries, requires no contract and works with both Android and iOS devices with any mobile phone carrier. For the first two years there are no any extra costs to its price tag of ¥16,070, though a fee after that has yet to be decided. By then the kids may not need it, but you could utilize it for one of Sourcenext’s other recommended uses — to track pets or even your travel luggage.


Pocket printer

In today’s increasingly paperless offices and homes, fewer people need printers. As more people use the cloud to store documents, printers are becoming increasingly redundant. It’s no wonder that office-appliance maker Ricoh has been exploring other, smaller uses for printer technology:

The Ricoh Handy Printer is a hand-held monochrome inkjet printer that can print out lines of text in fonts up to approximately 32 points (approximately 11 millimeters tall). To use it, you just swipe the gadget over whatever is being printed on. Swiping means it can print virtually anywhere and on textiles that won’t fit in an standard printer, such as thick cardboard, fabric, wood, even tissue paper.

Text or images are digitized using an Android app ( Windows version to be released in May) and then sent to the Handy Printer via Bluetooth or USB.

It’s not cheap, priced at ¥55,836, but its print resolution is good enough to print bar codes and QR codes and, provided you make sure it’s lined up correctly, you can print large blocks of text or images by swiping over an area several times.


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