GW-274 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:


The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 274 Thursday September 20, 2007
Subscribers: 9467
Name: Fujitsu Palm Vein Recognition PC Login Kit
Category: PC security
Price: Open Price
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Vein Pattern Recognition, also known as "Vascular Pattern Recognition", is a comparatively new form of biometrics that has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. We introduced the concept back in Gadget Watch #218, but here's a brief refresher: vein pattern recognition involves using light to penetrate a person's skin and detect the unique pattern of veins. While fingerprint recognition will probably always have its place in crime labs and government databases across the world, vein pattern recognition has demonstrated itself to be secure and reliable for a number of applications. It has certainly proven itself secure enough for banking, as a number of Japanese banks are already in the process of deploying such technology in their ATM machines throughout the country.

While we've seen plenty of fingerprint recognition devices and even a few vein recognition devices, the "Palm Vein Recognition PC Login Kit" from Fujitsu is allegedly the world's first mouse to contain palm vein recognition. The mouse itself will read a user's vein pattern when they place their hand on the mouse, and in tandem with software installed on the PC, either allow or deny their usage of the system. It's a nice approach; it eliminates the need to remember/input passwords, fiddle with fingerprint scanners, or perhaps even the need to issue IC cards to employees (who sometimes lose them anyway).

The software included with the mouse is designed to be standalone, so it need not be connected to any kind of server. It allows Windows login, file encryption/sharing, and ID/password input to be controlled via vein recognition. The mouse itself features a scroll wheel and three buttons. It connects via USB and will be available in white, black, and grey varieties.

Unfortunately, Fujitsu currently only makes the mouse available to its corporate customers, but perhaps they'll come around.

More info:
Name: Sony Rolly
Category: Audio Robot
Price: Open Price; estimated around 39,800 yen
Release date in Japan: September 29, 2007

The Gist: Sony has announced a new device called the "Rolly", which sits somewhere between the genres of portable audio player, portable speaker, and robot. If you're looking for a specific device to draw a parallel, SegaToys' iDog (Gadget Watch #177) is probably the closest you'll find.

Slated for release later this month in Japan, the Rolly resembles an egg. In terms of size, it's 104mm long and has a diameter of 65mm, making it slightly larger than the egg of a flamingo.

As you've probably gathered from the name, the "Rolly" is capable of rolling around on its own. On its own, it can also deploy two arms -- the "end caps" of the egg -- and use these arms to sort of dance in response to the music. That music can come from either inside the Rolly itself, as it has 1GB of internal memory and can handle ATRAC3, ATRAC3plus, MP3, and AAC files, or from another source, as it also features Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP/AVRCP profiles.

While you use USB to transfer songs to the Rolly, you also use USB to transfer dances to the Rolly. Included is "Motion Editor Ver.1.0", software specifically created to allow users to manually edit every movement performed by the Rolly in response to music. Sony is also preparing a new service called "Rolly Motion Park" to allow users to share their customized dances.

For better or worse, things go off the deep end when you realize that the Rolly really only has a single button: play. To perform other operations like increasing/decreasing the volume, you'll need to grab it. The wheels are designed to detect movement, so to turn the volume down for example, you grip it and turn it counter-clockwise. To put the unit in shuffle mode, you pick it up and shake it. To fast-forward or rewind through songs or groups of songs, you hold the unit vertically and turn the top wheel a certain amount. Sony has certainly come up with a creative playback control scheme for the Rolly, but it's up to the users to decide if this is better than simply pushing buttons to accomplish those actions.

The Rolly has two speakers that face away from one another, and actually point towards the surface on which the Rolly is placed.The idea is that because the Rolly only lightly contacts that surface at two points -- both of the wheels -- the surface can be used as a reverberation panel. This essentially means the surface surrounding the Rolly becomes a speaker, rather than the Rolly trying to be a speaker on its own.

Sony is planning a few accessories to go with the release of the Rolly, such as additional batteries, a recharging cradle, and a carrying case.

More info:
Name: Yamaha NX-B02
Category: Home Audio/Video
Price: Open Price; estimated around 24,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Late October 2007

The Gist: Yamaha has introduced a new model of their Bluetooth-compatible speaker, the NX-B02. It features Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, and supports the A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) for connection to devices such as music players, PCs, and mobile phones.

The speaker has an output of 6W x 2ch, including a frequency response from 90Hz to 20kHz. The "Twin SR-Bass" feature also allows both left and right channels to make the best use of "internal cabinet energy", converting it into low frequency sounds. The speaker contains two 4.5cm full-range drivers and measures 84 x 84 x 170mm (W x D x H). It can be powered via an AC adapter or four AA batteries, which will last for 4 hours of playback time. If you don't own a Bluetooth audio device, no worries because the unit also features a standard 3.5mm audio jack.

More info:

Start a Company in Japan

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 6th of October, 2007

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful.
Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan,will be giving an English-language seminar and Q and A on starting up a company in Japan.
This is an ideal opportunity to find out what is involved,
and to ask specific questions that are not normally answered in business books.
All materials are in English and are Japan-focused.

For more details:


Japan's First Family Social Network is here!

Are you raising a family in Japan? Do you speak English?
Would you like to meet other English speaking families in
your area? Piqniq is a Social Network Service tailored
specifically for you!
Our concept is "Families helping Families" and we invite
anyone that wants to meet other families, help other families,or discuss family-related issues pertinent to life in Japan to come and join the Piqniq today!

For more information:

Written by: Liam McNulty
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