Let AI shop around for you

Instagram has become a go-to when looking for new fashion trends and style inspiration. But what if you can’t personally find anything like what you see in a photo, and the Instagrammer hasn’t given you any information on where to get it? Artificial intelligence-based image searches can help according to Metaps One, which has released Miel, an app designed to specifically search e-commerce sites to find items similar to those you’re looking for. Since it’s searching shopping sites, if you like what it finds, you can purchase it straight away.

Miel is easy to use. Simply upload the image you’re admiring — whether it’s from Instagram or a magazine — and it will make recommendations. The app uses algorithms to analyze the photo to identify items and disregard backgrounds, then identifies colors, sleeve lengths, collar types, even patterns.

As a new app, Metaps One is still recruiting partners from e-commerce sites to improve search results and is in Japanese only, but since it’s free, it’s still worth looking into now.

App store: bit.ly/mielos, Google Play: bit.ly/mielgp

Snapping sound bites

Despite advances in digital photography, instant film cameras seem to have a never-ending appeal. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t seen innovations, too. Fujifilm has released a whole range of Instax cameras offering new features, such as display panels, filters and more. Its latest addition to the lineup is the Instax Mini LiPlay — a slim rechargeable pocket-sized camera that shoots on Instax Mini film.

The Mini LiPlay can take up to 100 photos on a single charge, takes 12 seconds to print an image, can be connected by Bluetooth to a mobile device to print other photos and has a display screen to help choose best shots. It also can be remote-controlled by a mobile device, is capable of taking close-ups and has a collection of filters and frames to choose from.

The most unusual feature of the Mini LiPlay, however, is its new function of recording sound. Photographers can use the camera to record a sound snippet to accompany a photo. When the photo is printed it will have a QR code on it that can be scanned using a mobile device to hear the recording. Ideal for sending messages, like birthday wishes, with a photo.

The Mini LiPlay is now available at most electronics stores for around ¥18,000.

bit.ly/instaxjp (Japanese), bit.ly/instaxen (English)

Take your toothpick

Offering free toothpicks in restaurants is an old tradition that is far less common than it used to be, possibly because diners these days find it a little unhygienic to dip their fingers into a dispenser. Nevertheless, there are still times when you really need to fix a potentially embarrassing smile — and it would be nice to know that the toothpick you use hasn’t been touched by several diners before you.

Daitoku, a company that develops industrial LED lights and security cameras, has realized that its technology can improve the toothpick dispenser — not just to ensure users only touch one toothpick at a time, but also to safeguard all the sticks in the box from contamination.

Called the Yoji-Kenjo, Daitoku’s dispenser has a sensor in its lid that triggers a little platform that raises to present you with a single toothpick. You can rest assured that the toothpick is clean as it’s first sterilized by an ultraviolet light in the storage section.

The Yoji-Kenjo was invented for restaurants, but at ¥3,780, it’s not a bad investment for those who regularly use toothpicks at home.

bit.ly/daitoku (Japanese only)

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