Trends in Japan

By Michael Keferl -- CScout Japan

A group at the Chiba University Graduate School of Engineering has developed a concept apartment building where everything is connected through an interactive system of touch screen monitors and near-field communication. Using Fujitsu’s UBWALL technology, the UBMANSION, will allow residents to manage their entire apartment life through the building’s RFID-enabled screens, television menus in rooms, and personal mobile phones. No more keys or wallets either, as you’ll have contactless entry to restaurants, the parking garage, and the gym. It will even keep your training schedule for you! Need a taxi? Just push a button. Need a missing ingredient for dinner? Pick it, and the supermarket will bring it right up without needing any personal information from you, let alone needing to talk to you. Is the future supposed to be this easy?

BearConcept phones
Japanese mobile carriers are changing the way we think about phone design by making them resemble handsets as little as possible!

The Kuma Phone from Willcom is a SIM stuffed bear with speed dial numbers activated by squeezing the paws. The concept is for children to easily call their parents, but why stop there? Is it unreasonable to imagine voice communication embedded in everyday household items, from sofas to tables?


The most recent AU Design Project has turned one man’s handset into another man’s trumpet by collaborating with Yamaha. The series of music phones feature handsets that can be used as drums, synthesizers, horns, guitars, pianos, and more. Marianne Bailey from the UK and Yves Plattard from France designed the pieces, and you’ll be able to see them again soon at the upcoming CEATEC in Tokyo.

Of course, this takes us back to the beginning: Is there anything that shouldn’t be a phone? Instead of finding the model that will “do everything,” it might be better to just turn everything into a phone and move on.

Digital RetailDigital Retail
Monitors displaying digital ads have been around for ages, but we’re noticing them less and less. At Tokyo Station, high definition digital ads are allowing brands to blanket a large area 30 seconds at a time. The screens themselves are integrated seamlessly into the walls and pillars, and can be easily viewed even from side angles.

Cscout Japan is part of the global Cscout market research, trend scouting and experience/trend tour network. Their daily blog can be found at