Now that most of Japan’s major urban centers are under a second state of emergency and everyone is encouraged to avoid nonessential outings, these gadgets and apps may come in handy.

Home office

Last year prompted many big changes in the way people work and do business in Japan, particularly regarding telework.

Still, some people find it difficult to stay focused while working at home. Think Lab, a startup that rents out minimalist study spaces, crowdfunded over ¥13 million to launch a “portable study,” Think Lab Home, based on the booths used in the Think Lab office.

With it, you can create a little space where you can concentrate, no matter how cluttered your home is. Plus, it’s made from sustainable materials such as recycled paper and wood fiber, and is both light and durable.

There’s two workspace solutions on offer. Think Lab Home (¥15,000) is prefabricated, and you can set up your study in just three minutes by interlocking the four parts. The foldable, origami-style Think Lab Home+ is even less hassle, and set up takes mere seconds. When not in use, it folds down to just 10-centimeters thick.

Currently, Think Home is collaborating with Unilever Japan to test the products.


TP check

TP, please: Never run out of toilet paper again with FutuRocket’s KamiR.
TP, please: Never run out of toilet paper again with FutuRocket’s KamiR.

Thanks to 2020, keeping track of your toilet paper now feels like a dire situation.

Startup FutuRocket has developed an internet of things-connected toilet paper holder, KamiR. The name is a wordplay on the Japanese for paper (kami) and exist (aru, which sounds like the letter R). KamiR has a distance sensor and sends an automatic update of how much paper is left on the roll to the cloud every 15 minutes using Sigfox, a wireless communication network.

Originally, this holder was developed at the IoT Maker’s Project contest held in Kitakyushu between 2018-19 according to a theme issued by toilet manufacturer Toto. FutuRocket continued to develop the holder, and implemented the Alexa.InventoryLevelSensor interface on it last month to support Amazon Dash Replenishment, which automatically reorders consumables from Amazon.co.jp.

FutuRocket envisions deploying it to public facilities, office buildings, commercial tenants and toilet maintenance companies. Commercialization is still undecided, but as of Dec. 2, 2020, the holder has been accepted for the Winter/Spring 2021 Batch of accelerator platform Plug and Play Japan.


Pocket paint studio

Mobile studio: With Clip Studio Paint for Android, you can paint like a pro from any device.
Mobile studio: With Clip Studio Paint for Android, you can paint like a pro from any device.

Clip Studio Paint is an illustration- and manga-drawing software, popular with many professional illustrators, manga artists and animators. Last month, distributor Celsys Inc. released a global version for Android 9 and above. It’s also compatible with Chrome OS.

But just because it’s for mobile doesn’t mean it’s a simplified version: It has the same functionality as the original PC software, which means you can now create full-fledged graphics content on any device.

Clip Studio Paint is available in Japanese, English, French, Spanish, German, Korean and Chinese. The application is free to download, and smartphone users can use it for free for an hour per day, while Chromebook users can use it for free for three months. After which, you can choose from one of four subscription plans, starting at just ¥100/month for a basic Smartphone Plan.


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