National | CHUBU CONNECTION

Just take a snap and let Aichi smartphone app explain what's seen, and where

Chunichi Shimbun

An Aichi-based electronic parts manufacturer has developed a free smartphone app that allows people to obtain information on tourist spots simply by taking photos of them.

Sono Electronics Co. teamed up with the tourism divisions of Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, and the Ise-Shima region in Mie Prefecture where the Group of Seven summit is to be held in May, to launch Pachiri Guide this month.

When the app is started and a photo of a tourist site taken, the location is automatically determined based on the smartphone’s GPS and the direction the camera is facing. Information about the site then appears on the screen.

The company, which specializes in motor parts, developed the app in hopes of exploring new business opportunities and acquired a patent for the technology in August 2013.

Data on 100 tourist sites are registered for each prefecture. In Mie, Sono Electronics worked with the Ise-Shima Tourism and Convention Organization to register data on 700 other tourist spots in the region, including Ise Jingu Shrine and the Meoto Iwa (Wedded Rocks).

Because the app utilizes GPS, information can even be obtained on the small islands in Mie’s Toba Bay while on sightseeing boats.

The app can be downloaded for free. Once activated, it obtains registered information on sites within a 30-km radius.

The Ise-Shima version of the app is also available in English, and the Takayama version is offered in five languages, including Chinese and French. The developers hope the app will help tourists who feel Japan does not have enough signs in foreign languages.

Pachiri Guide also provides information on evacuation procedures for natural disasters. If the app’s “Refuge” button is clicked, it chooses the closest evacuation shelter from its databank of 126,000 shelters nationwide and lists its distance from your location.

“Unlike radio and other broadcasting services, this app can deliver the most appropriate information for each user,” said Sono Electronics President Kunio Ukezono, 73.

He believes the G-7 summit will be the perfect opportunity to promote the app, since many foreigners will visit the region.

“I hope this app will not only be widely used in Japan, but also be promoted around the world,” Ukezono said.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Feb. 9.

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