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Entertainment the Japanese Way

January 2010

By Julia Barnes and Clint Taniguchi, Tokyo

Not yet on the market, but demonstrating a new convergence of appliances and media, the Japanese-designed CastOven microwave is designed to warm food and find a YouTube video of equal length to entertain you while you wait. The microwave door is replaced with a 10.4-inch LED screen and a set of quality speakers. All you need now is a Mac to run it...

There is no question that the innovation of software products has impacted millions of lives globally and instantly. Particularly, software applications for the iPhone have made it the hardware product we can’t live without. The iPhone has become essential to the English-speaking community of Tokyo. However, to the other 98% of the population, the iPhone has yet to take command of the Japanese market. Factors are due to the lack of popular functions, such as mobile wallets, payment systems, QR code readers, Japanese 3D games and applications used for social networks like Mobage Town.

Finally, thanks to the developers at Xcool Apps, free and paid versions of EMoji (a.k.a emoticons), and more recently Smiley Mail, are bringing the iPhone up to par with the average Japanese handsets. For the price of 150 Yen or $1.50 USD, the user can add in their favorite characters and change fonts or colors on their mail - key ways of text writing for teens in Japan.

We have loved Skype this holiday season. Our nine-month old daughter has adapted to the technology of staying connected with relatives in Hawaii, UK and New Zealand via video chatting. While she sleeps, we use Skype to stay connected between the two floors in our home. This is the cheapest and most convenient baby video monitor we could own. As for Skype products, I have never had twenty bucks last longer than as Skype credits. They are a revolution in international calling as a 10-minute call to a Hawaii landline phone costs only a quarter.


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