Archive for Hardware

Memories of feature phones that haven’t faded

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Although smartphones are far more feature-rich, this survey from goo Ranking took a look at what feature phone memories people felt most nostalgic for.

From an internal point of view, feature phones have been completely superceded by Android and iOS-powered phones, but externally, a few local manufacturers are making Android-based flip-phones, which incidentally I think I can upgrade my pretty useless and too featureless to be called a feature phone Wi-Fi-based work mobile to, which might be interesting from a technical point of view to see what they are doing.

My best memory is a variant of number 3, the button that was one push to open the phone.

I remember this phone! One Seg television, and the screen half on a rather over-large joint that could flip either vertically or horizontally.

TV + Cellphone = Jealousy
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Three in five aware of AI speakers, half of them want a Google Home

Google in particular are quite heavily promoting their AI speaker, so this survey from iRobot (who are apparently getting into the smart speaker business) into AI speakers gives us some idea of how the Japanese are responding to this advertising.

I would like to a Google Home to play with, although not enough to actually want to pay for one… It’s interesting to see Apple with such high numbers considering that they haven’t actually released theirs yet. Perhaps when people learn that the functionality is actually rather limited, it might drop in popularity, but then again Apple fans will buy it for the Apple logo regardless of features.

The LINE speaker looks horrendously cheap and nasty as can be seen in this advert:


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Drone ownership, usage and image in Japan

The Outdoor Research Institute recently reported on a survey they conducted into drones. There most likely were more than three questions, but the press release only gave us these below.

I’ve not had a drone, and don’t really have any desire to get one. In particular in Japan there are too many restrictions in place to make it of much use, I feel.

Here’s a nice night drone shot from Okinawa, although flying over towns at night needs special permission, I believe…

Night in Mihama, Chatan
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45% of older Japanese feel their hearing is going

The company Rion recently published the results of a survey into hearing aids for older people.

Interestingly, the company Rion was also responsible for designing the neutrino detecters that recently earnt a Japanese physicist a Nobel Prize; they also have an English magazine describing how they developed the detectors which might be more interesting than this survey…

A couple of years ago I looked into prices of hearing aids and it was quite frightening (300,000 yen or more), and unless you are certified as deaf you have to pay full whack – there is zero support from national health insurance, and even officially deaf people have to rely on local government handouts that may or may not cover the total cost. I read a couple of years ago that the hearing aid market was ripe for disruption; surely given the ubiquity of smartphones it would be possible to make the earpiece just a dumb speaker, then build an aural profile of one’s ear state and download it to a smartphone, add a decent microphone, and Bob’s your uncle?

Here’s a 1960s made in Japan hearing aid:

Vintage Chic Transistorized (Body) Hearing Aid, Model TR-6, 4 Transistors, Manufactured By Conny Industrial Co., Ltd., Made In Japan, Circa Early 1960s
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Japanese students too want Apple computers

This survey from Ringrow, a computer and other electronics refurbishment company, looked at university students and computers.

I am far too old to have experienced any of this computer stuff at university, and my dissertation was prepared on a terminal in Tex and vi, if I remember correctly.

One interesting figure you might spot is that 7.7% use a smartphone and 21.9% a computer for lecture notes, leaving about two-thirds presumably taking notes on paper. I would have thought that a computer might be faster, but I don’t know if it a typing speed issue, kanji conversion bottleneck, using pen and paper makes it easier to remember, or if just that many lecturers ban computers as distractions. Or if you want to go all Japan Cultural Expert, is the sound of tapping on the keyboard rude? Any current students or lecturers out there with an insight? Previous surveys of the general population have indicated that there is about a 50:50 desktop to notebook split, so it isn’t just that everyone has a desktop, I don’t think.

Here’s some classic art brought up-to-date…

Blogging in Edo
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Japanese quite open to home robots, Roomba and friends most popular

Would you like to have a robot around the house? graph of japanese statistics@nifty recently surveyed its members to find out their opinions on robots.

I don’t know what ASIMO, Honda’s walking robot, is doing in the list of household robots; as far as I am aware it is nothing more than a technology promotion, with no plans to commercialise. I’m also surprised to see Panasonic’s Mr Evolta, which again I understand to be just a vehicle for promoting their recharable batteries. Regardless, it’s interesting to so how well-known these names are.

This is my favourite robot statue that pre-dates the more famous life-size Gundam, a life-size Testujin 28-go.

Tetsujin 28
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One in four Japanese fancy buying the Nintendo Switch

Will you buy a Nintendo Switch? graph of japanese statistics

With the Nintendo Switch now released, this survey is perhaps slightly outdated, but regardless, here is a look at purchase intentions regarding the Nintendo Switch.

The 1-2-Switch party game pack looks like fun after a night in the pub, I suppose, and the adverts for the Zelda title look lovely, but who knows how the game play actually is!

This might be another nice title?

Splatoon 2 Announced At Nintendo Switch Conference
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One in four thinking about a new iPhone, most want more battery life

Might you buy the new iPhone 7? graph of japanese statisticsWith the new iPhone 7 expected to be announced next week, this is a timely survey reported on by Internetcom and conducted by Macromill into the new iPhone.

The rumours I’ve heard are no headphone jack; Bluetooth only, which I can believe Apple would do regardless of customer complaints; and support for Japan’s Felica NFC chip standard, to allow it to be used on public transport here, which I would be surprised to see.
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Intelligent robots: friends or foes?

Do you hold hopes or fears for Biglobe recently published an interesting survey looking at machine intelligence, synchronised with the Japanese release of the movie Ex Machina.

Given the lack of penetration of any kind of automation tools in the average Japanese workplace, I think the chances of a revolution here are relatively low. On the other hand, if someone teaches the AI how to use a fax, heaven help Japan!

Here’s Pepper and a couple of friends:

Say hello to newest Cusco campaign team! Pepper the Customer Greeting Robot. #PepperRobot #CuscoJapan #CuscoRacing #TakasakiKusuko #campaigngirl #racequeen
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One in three Japanese clinging to their feature phones

Which carrier do you use for your main mobile phone? graph of japanese statisticsInternetcom recently reported on a survey by MMD into feature phones, bog-standard non-smart phones.

My two-year mobile phone contract is up for renewal this month, and after a short visit to my local Docomo shop, I found that I will be paying about 7,000 yen, the cheapest data plan they offer, for up to three gigabytes of data, free wifi and a few free minutes, not that I actually phone anyone much. On the other hand, I can get a cheap SIM, including getting my current number moved over, with the same 3 gigs of data and fee wifi, for about 1,500 yen per month. A hard choice…
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