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Japanese gadgets at World Mobile Congress
I just love visiting NTT DoCoMo’s booth, Japan’s largest carrier, as every time I leave it I know I found out something new, although realizing that it is mere exotica. There is a popular opinion that the things they are currently using in Japan will make it to other regions in five years or so, if at all. A colleague of mine once said that this booth was of no interest at all, as they had been showing off the same technologies for years with no really fresh additions to the portfolio. But details are what it’s all about, and the things that he saw a couple of years ago have shape-changed, picked up new features and morphed into something totally different. The Japanese mobile phone and services market isn’t that easy to comprehend for a European, that the reason all these prejudiced opinions come along, while in fact this market has a culture that’s not like anything else, as well as different technologies and thus different ways of their application.
As far as Japanese handsets are concerned, I’m used to hearing superlatives lie “the slimmest”, “the biggest”, “the you-name-it” phone. Extremes always draw more attention – that’s the way it has always been. This time around, the carrier’s booth featured “the most water-proof” handset – the F705i, that was literally floating inside a water pool. Another stand showcased the slimmest devices, then a booth with designer solutions taking cues for old calculators and watches.
Unlike us, the Japanese try to get a broader perspective of things , the N705i coming from the amadana-series not only offers a quirky design, menu and leather accents, but also a whole line-up of things for your home, styled in the same vein and employing the very same concepts. In fact the brand itself has been created solely for this purpose. Now image that Nokia starts turning out fridges, microwave ovens only to key your surroundings to some handset’s design. Insanity? No way, it is a philosophy of being in harmony with the environments.
Late in 2008 the carrier will be launching a phone for those who care about their own health – inbuilt sensors will rate your heartbeat, breathing and weight-to-height ratio in less than a minute. It is going to be an interesting solution, although not a mass-market solution; but who knows how it will turn out, maybe it will occupy the top places in sales charts.
Another piece of gadgetry that makes sophisticated things more straightforward is the Raku-Raku series of mid-tier devices with no bells and whistles onboard, and rather focusing on instant communication. That is, the area below the display houses three buttons that can be bound up with phone numbers of your relatives, so that you will always be a touch away from your loved ones. These phones are already past 4th generation, as they popped up immediately after the carrier had introduced its tariff for the whole family, offering very attractive rates.
We all know how complex technologies may get, but sometimes phone makers take shortcuts that are even more sophisticated. How about a phone coming equipped with dot-pattern compatible mail application that allows picking certain images and composing emails or doing something else this way by touching dot-codes printed on compatible books with the handset’s Mobile G-scanner. Plus it can read out all phrases you have just typed. Sound overly odd and unbelievable, but it actually works and does a pretty good job at that. Perhaps, that’s one way for grandmas and grandpas to send emails via their handsets.
This phone for kids boasts enhanced safety features. What does that mean, I hear you ask? It comes with a so-called “protection” alarm – you press the switch and get yourself and everyone around stunned by a 100-decebel alarm. Or you can secretly send a distress message to other phone numbers. The handset boasts scuffs-prone plastic, and it won’t fall apart should your kid drop it, furthermore, its innards are 100% water-proof. It also comes with a remote that triggers an alarm whenever you get 20-30 meters away from the phone. Parents can also take advantage of the kid tracker, which is a self-explanatory feature. You say impossible? No, it is real, but only in the Japanese society due to its cultural traditions and family institution.
You really want to know that the next Sony Ericsson’s Walkman will look like? Then the SO905i should be on top of your priority list, as it comes with a Bravia widescreen and the latest Walkman player inside. And the best thing about it is that this handset can tap into GSM networks hands down.
And lastly, we would like to share with you some ideas on how your handset can come in handy in ways other than calling or messaging. Sure, you can open bottles with it, or… doors. The door lock should come equipped with a wireless sensor, so that you will be able to open it with your bare handset. Moreover, you can setup it in the way that your door will refuse to open without a finger print ID, or specified phone numbers will receive messages with info on who and when opened your door. Fascinating? Yes, but not popular even in Japan – over a couple of years they have signed up around 4000 houses.
Published 13 February 2008
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