Friday, July 28, 2006


Mobile lightning alert service launched

The hot weather in the UK has led to a number of thunderstorms of late which have coincided with some media reports that mobile phones may actually be magnets for lightning. For those who are worried about being struck down by a bolt from the blue, a new service by global weather service Weather News may be of interest.

The service is called “Lightning Alert” and delivers email messages to your mobile when lightning storms brew within 30 kilometres of a predefined location. As well as specifying the likely location of lightning strikes, the service rates the lightning ‘danger level’ on a scale of one to four.

To sign up for the lightning alerts, consumers must first subscribe to the Weather News service at a price of ¥105 per month. Of course, the service is only available in Japan, so those of us in the UK might want to continue wearing rubber soles and avoid climbing trees.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Flash turns phones into RPG battle game

Flash applications are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, allowing consumers to completely customise their mobiles with skins that can evolve according to variables such as the time of day. Square Enix has just released a flash application “Battle Flash” based on the company’s classic Dragon Quest RPG video game series.

After installing the application, battery charge is displayed as HP and signal strength as MP. Each time the handset is opened, a battle scene takes place featuring characters from the video games. The characters who appear change depending on the HP and MP levels and the time of day.

“Battle Flash” is part of a range of content on Square Enix’s Dragon Quest mobile portal. Sub-ion to the portal costs between 105 and 525 yen per month ($0.90 - $4.50) which awards the subscriber with an amount of ‘DQ Points’ which they can spend as they choose on the different content on the site.

 - Click to Enlarge

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Broadband router using 4 W-Sims unveiled

At the recent Wireless Japan 2006 event, PHS operator Willcom had on display a demo product boasting the most original use of its W-Sim technology yet – a broadband router.

As a W-Sim module has a maximum transfer speed of only 128kbps, the router, provisionally named “BB Router Jacket”, ingeniously provides slots for 4 W-Sim modules which can work in unison to deliver a connection speed of up to 512kbps. The router offers both wireless and wired connections.

The device could be potentially very useful in situations where a temporary high-speed data connection is required, for example when exhibiting at events where data connections are charged at a premium.

 - Click to Enlarge Image (c) ITmedia

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


QR codes to disappear from Japan?

Since their introduction in late 2002, QR codes have become widely used in Japan (according to recent research by DoCoMo, 70% of Japanese mobile owners have used them), but a new development in Japan threatens to make QR codes disappear completely!

IBM Japan have developed a system of printing QR codes which are invisible to the human eye but which can still be captured using a cameraphone. The key to the system is UV-fluorescent ink and a black light LED-equipped cameraphone. The QR code is printed using the ink and when the QR code is captured, the black light LED illuminates the ink enabling the phone to read the hidden code.

QR codes are becoming increasingly common in magazines and other printed materials in Japan, but their use imposes limitations on design and layout. IBM’s hidden QR codes could solve these problems and encourage some interesting QR code usages.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


DoCoMo reveal handset for women, RAZR derivatives

Last week, DoCoMo announced details of six new 3G handsets due to go on sale later this summer. As usual, the new handsets have some interesting functions worth taking a look at.

The new lineup includes the D702iF targeted squarely at female users, which comes in a variety of floral patterns and comes loaded with a biorhythm calculator and a recipe book with a cooking timer function customised for each dish. The handset also has a “ringtone relief” function – an extended push of a button located on the side of the handset sets off the ringtone, allowing owners to receive a fake phonecall to come to their aid in situations such as when being harassed by strangers when walking down the street.

The P702iD has an interesting function called “Feel*Talk” which analyses the tone and volume of the consumer’s voice during calls and shows an animated display and flashes LEDs in a way which mirrors the ‘feelings’ of the speaker. The SH702iS has a contrast-adjusting button on the side of the handset which is being touted as an anti-peeping feature. The N702iS takes its inspiration from drinks, with its ‘bubbly’ fascias. The handset comes in ‘Mineral Water’, ‘Strawberry Milk’, ‘Cafe Latte’, ‘Soda’, ‘Orange Juice’, ‘Cranberry’, ‘Green Tea’ and ‘Hot Chocolate’ flavours.

Two of the new models come from Motorola, a handset manufacturer which has so far only taken tentative steps in the Japanese market. The handsets are both modelled on the ever popular RAZR and have strong roaming capabilities.

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