Digital | ON: TECH

Gadgets for a life of convenience

by Chiho Komoriya

Really easy cooking

Not everyone is a great cook, and meals consisting of several side dishes or different components can be tricky to get right.

Take, for example, the standard combination of a slab of fish or meat served with white rice, miso soup and a side of vegetables. That’s at least four cooking processes.

Twin Chef, released by the mail-order service Shop Japan, could be the solution for people not so adept in the kitchen or too busy to put together a full meal. It looks like a large rice cooker, but it can do so much more. Split into two compartments that can cook at different temperatures, it can prepare rice on one side, while stewing a different dish on the other. Not only that, but additional basket attachments allow other items, such as vegetables or dumplings, to be simultaneously steamed above the main dishes.

Though it’s not much bigger than a family-sized rice cooker, the Twin Chef can make enough rice and curry for six people. There are also 10 preset buttons for simple and quick cooking, including ones for soup, congee with vegetables, stewed dishes and even cake. You don’t have to set the temperature or timer, the presets take care of that. Just pop in the ingredients and press the start button.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also manually control the Twin Chef, which can be set at temperatures between 35 and 130 degrees Celsius, with cooking times for up to 12 hours. Other useful functions include a timer, which can be used to start the Twin Chef from 1 minute to 12 hours later, and a reheating setting.

Like a rice cooker, the two pots are nonstick, plus Twin Chef will throw in a ladle, rice scoop and lightweight measuring cup, all together for ¥21,780.

bit.ly/twinchef-jp (Japanese only)

Door etiquette

Ever collided into a colleague when going through a door? Or perhaps hit another person when pushing a door open? It sounds like a small inconvenience, but one that could cause a nasty accident. King Jim store’s gadget to prevent such collisions, isn’t cheap at ¥15,400, but for busy offices with a lot of foot traffic, it could be worth it.

A set of two devices — one for each side of the door — the Attention Please Door Light has motion sensors that detect oncoming people and sets off a flashing light and buzzer alert to anyone approaching from the other side. The sensors can detect movement at 120 degrees horizontally and 110 degrees vertically and the buzzer has volume control. Office goods maker King Jim released an earlier model of this in 2017, but now it is wireless and runs on four C batteries, making it easier to move if needed.

To attach the devices, there’s a magnetic panel on the back for metal doors, plus options to screw it in place. It’s also light enough to be held up with double-sided tape.

Since the sensors can cover a wide area, each device can also be used individually, for example on corners of hallways. It has good battery life too, lasting up to two years if the device detects someone 30 times a day.

bit.ly/dooralert-jp (Japanese only)

Keeping track of everything

Life Pocket, a leather smart accessories maker, has come up with a range of goods for people who like to keep their trackers on important items discreetly tucked away.

GPS and Bluetooth tracker tags have been around a while, but often they are extra attachments that need to be hung on the outside of wallets and pass cases.

Life Pocket’s Smart Wallet (¥15,400), Mini Wallet2 (¥15,400) and the new PassCase (¥8,800), however, are attractive leather items that each come with a tiny Mamorio tracking device neatly tucked into an inner pocket. There are 12 colors to choose from and the Mamorio is removeable should you want to use it elsewhere.

Mamorio tags are Bluetooth 4.0- and wifi enabled, allowing the last location of an item to be tracked on a map app. They also utilize cloud finding, so that if the owner is too far from a lost item, other Mamorio users closer to it may detect it and report the location. This is done anonymously and without users knowing each other’s location.

Major transport companies, including Japan Railways and Tokyo Metro, as well as department stores such as Takashimaya, have also installed Mamorio antennae so that if a lost item is sent to their lost-and-found offices, the owner is informed.

life-pocket.jp (Japanese only)