We are all a little confused and stressed about the spread of COVID-19. But are there any ideas out there that might help us stay healthy and occupied during this time of uncertainty?

Going out online

While many real-world events are being canceled, the virtual world is thriving and can offer a means of escapism. Using a VR headset can also help relieve those in self-isolation. If you’re game, you can try immersing yourself into the Japanese social VR platform Cluster.

Once logged in as an avatar, you can wander around, chat with others and participate in various events, including concerts and meetups.

This month, Cluster released a mobile app for its platform via Japan’s App store and Google Play. Like the PC version, the app allows players to observe interactions via the screen as well as through a VR headset. Logging in is easy. After launching the app, select your Apple or Google account, enter your user ID and display name, and you’re in. You’ll appear as a simple robot-like avatar, with a TV-set like head showing your ID icon. Your display name and icon can be changed later.

If you are new to avatar control, you’ll find tutorials provided in the “official world,” to guide you. Check the bulletin board on the home screen for event information and to find popular worlds to visit. Up to 12 people can be connected at the same time per world, where you can use microphones and original avatars to chat to others there. Downloading the app is free.

bit.ly/cluster-io (App Store), bit.ly/cluster-go (Google Play)

Keep it all clean

Local Power, based in the city of Akita, uses a patented process to stabilize hypochlorous acid (HOCl) to produce a disinfecting and deodorizing water called iPOSH, which is used as a bottled spray at public facilities, schools, shops, pharmacies and medical and welfare facilities.

However, its Jia Fine Mist, an electronic gadget that can disinfect a wider area, could add a little extra cleanliness to the home.

An ultrasonic nebulizer, which also functions as a humidifier, the Jia Fine Mist was developed for homes and small businesses for spaces from around 14 square meters to 48 square meters. It has a 5-liter tank, into which you pour the iPosh solution, diluted with four parts water. According to the company, its patented filter makes sure that the diluted iPosh is still effective. To eliminate bad odors, iPosh diluted with two parts water is recommended.

It has a touch panel for operating, a wireless remote control, three timer options — two hours, four hours and eight hours, as well as an “eco mode” that causes it to pause for intervals of three minutes during its operation.

Priced at ¥38,500, the device has become so popular that, though still available online at stores like Amazon, Rakuten and Yahoo! Shopping, it now takes around three weeks or more to ship.

bit.ly/iposh-jp (Japanese only)

The smartphone PC

If working from home has left you using your smartphone for everything from writing emails to checking and even editing documents, gadget shop Sanwa Supply has released something that could be useful to those finding text on a tiny screen annoying.

Particularly useful for those who don’t own laptops, the 400-ADR325BK is an SD and MicroSD card reader that also mirrors an Android phone’s screen on a large monitor — basically turning it into a desktop computer. About the size of a large portable battery, the device is connected to the monitor using an HDMI cable. It supports DeX mode of Galaxy phones and Desktop mode of Huawei phones and has three USB A ports for a mouse or keyboard, or you can connect wireless ones to the Android smartphone.

With the card slots allowing you to manage data and priced at ¥4,480, it could be a cheap alternative to a computer — provided you already have a monitor.

bit.ly/sanwa400-jp (Japanese only)

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