Whether you love or hate your current commuting experience, this story will certainly make you demand more from local authorities when it comes to public transit. Social media exploded over the weekend with news from Japan that a train station is in operation with the sole purpose of serving a single passenger, a student whose means of reaching school is that particular train.
We know that our economy is going to become more automated in the coming years but in Japan automation could account for half of the work done within 20 years. According to a new study from the Nomura Research Institute (NRI) “up to 49 percent of jobs” in Japan “could be replaced by computer systems” by 2035. Yumi Wakao, the researcher behind the study, said that this is “only a hypothetical technical calculation” and “doesn’t take into account social factors.” More →
Japanese game shows. Dear God. If you’ve never watched one before, you should know that the parody of them featured on The Simpsons was basically spot on. Basically, many these shows are exercises in sadism that are also extremely funny in their own demented way. If you want a prime example, check out this amazing clip in which several guys have to recite a tongue twister without making any mistakes or else get hit in the balls with a mallet. More →
The effects of the disastrous tsunami in Japan that caused a catastrophic failure at the Fukushima nuclear power plant are still being felt to this very day. Recovery efforts began immediately after the plant was hit, but the damage to surrounding areas will take many years to repair. In fact, the nearly 16,000 residents of the town Tomioka, Fukushima, the home of the plant, has been abandoned for over three years. Employing the use of flying drones, HEXa Media, a Japan-based company has returned to the ghost town to explore the ongoing cleanup. It’s a fascinating look at a beautiful city, missing the thousands of families that once called Tomioka home. Take a look at the footage below. More →
Sega exited the video game console business in 2001 after stiff competition from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo forced the struggling company to shift gears. Now, more than 10 years later, Sega is back with new video game hardware… but it’s definitely not the kind you might expect. Unveiled late last year, Sega’s “Toylet” is now available in Japan and the surrounding region. The system connects to a urinal, allowing users to play a variety of interactive games by urinating on a sensor connected to the main device. A screen above the system then displays each game to the player, examples of which include filling virtual coffee cans and blowing wind up a cartoon news anchor’s dress. The Toylet costs roughly $1,750 and each game runs an additional $125, but it’s likely money well spent for bar owners, at least until the novelty wears off. A video demo of the Toylet (not in action, thankfully) follows below along with a pair of images that show examples of Toylet installations in Tokyo. More →
Global 4G LTE smartphone shipments reached 6.8 million units in the technology’s first year. According to a study from market research firm Strategy Analytics, global LTE smartphone shipments could surge tenfold to 67 million units in 2012. It is expected to be a breakout year for LTE technology, with Apple, Samsung, HTC and others planning to launch 4G LTE phones in the United States, Japan and South Korea. “The mobile industry is entering a breakout year for 4G LTE technology. Multiple operators and multiple phone vendors will be launching dozens of LTE models across numerous countries worldwide,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. “LTE has quickly become a high-growth, high-value market that no operator, service developer, device vendor or component maker can afford to ignore.” Read on for Strategy Analytics’s press release. More →
LG announced on Wednesday that it has sold more than 1 million Optimus LTE handsets. A version of the device landed in the United States as the Nitro HD on AT&T, although it’s unclear if that phone is figured into the count. “The combination of LTE connectivity with LG’s True HD IPS display has resonated with the public regarding the potential of LTE technology,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, President and CEO of LG Mobile Communications Company. LG said it sold 600,000 Optimus LTE units during the first three months the phone was available. The company also sold 8,500 units in Japan on the phone’s launch day. The Optimus LTE features a 4.5-inch 1280 x 720-pixel True HD IPS display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera. LG’s full press release follows after the break.
Texas Instruments announced recently that, even though it reported better than expected chip sales during the fourth quarter of 2011, the company will shut down its plants in Texas and in Japan. Texas Instruments has seen an increased demand for its mobile chips but will close the two factories during the next 18 months while increasing its employee numbers at different plants. The move is an effort to cut costs, Reuters said. The company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $298 million, down from $942 million during the same quarter last year. Revenue also fell from $3.53 billion last year to $3.42 billion during the fourth quarter. “Everybody feared we’d end the holiday season with abysmal sales,” Cody Acree, an analyst with Williams Financial, told Reuters. “The reality is that end-demand is better than TI customers had originally feared. We’re not calling for great growth but we’re not heading into the abyss.” More →
Samsung may soon begin selling its televisions in Japan after taking a several year hiatus. Samsung is reportedly talking to Yamada Denki Co and Yodobashi Camera Co., two retailers in the country, Reuters said Monday. Samsung originally left the market citing an increase in competition from other television makers and a drop in profits. The South Korean firm is expected to unveil several new models during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. LG, one of the Samsung’s largest competitors, took the wraps off of a gorgeous nearly borderless 55-inch OLED television on Monday. More →
NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank have created the “Japan Mobile NFC Consortium,” which will help the three carriers coordinate and adopt an international NFC standard. Currently, all three operators offer an NFC service dubbed Osaifu-Keitai (wallet phone) which uses a contactless-IC smartcard that’s called FeliCa. Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t work overseas where other carriers use Type A or Type B NFC standards, which means Osaifu-Ketai won’t function properly for NTT DoCoMo, KDDI or SoftBank customers hoping to use their phones for mobile payments overseas. The three carriers hope they can work with handset makers and vendors to encourage the adoption of Type A and Type B NFC standards. The consortium also aims to “create an environment in Japan where service providers can offer efficient, low-cost NFC services based on common standards and rules adopted by the three mobile operators.” The full press release follows after the break. More →
Sony’s PlayStation Vita portable gaming system made its debut in Japan on Saturday and early sales estimates are beginning to trickle out. According to research firm Enterbrain, Sony sold 321,400 Vita units during the first 48 hours of the device’s availability. That’s 50,000 fewer units than Nintendo sold after the 3DS made its debut in the country. Nintendo ran into trouble shortly after launch as consumer interest in the 3DS faded due to a lack of compelling games, and the company eventually had to drop the price of its system to regain momentum. We first went hands-on with the PlayStation Vita during E3 2011 and, while it was still an early build of the device, we really liked the form factor and impressive graphics. Sony is expected to launch the Vita in North America and Europe in February for $250, and a 3G-enabled version should launch in the United States in partnership with AT&T around the same time. More →
Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House recently said that pre-orders for the company’s brand new portable gaming console, the PlayStation Vita, have sold out in Japan ahead of its December 17th launch. “I’m pretty confident… that there will not be major challenges in meeting demand, even though there may be short-term,” House explained to reporters recently. As the Associated Press points out, a successful launch in Japan could help soften the blow of Sony’s predicted fourth consecutive annual loss. The PlayStation Vita was originally announced during E3 2011 and we were impressed with the gaming performance during our early look at the device. The Vita will launch in the United States on February 22nd for $249.99, and a second version compatible with AT&T 3G will be released at a later date for an additional $50. More →
Samsung recently filed lawsuits in Japan and Australia in an attempt to prevent Apple from selling the iPhone 4S. In addition, Samsung is seeking to block the sale of the iPad 2 and the original iPhone 4 in Japan, Bloomberg said Monday. In September, the South Korea-based phone maker also filed motions to ban the iPhone 4S in France and Italy. “Apple has continued to violate our patent rights and free ride on our technology,” Samsung said. “We will no longer stand idly by and will steadfastly protect our intellectual property.” Apple filed similar lawsuits against Samsung in the United States, Australia, Japan, France and the Netherlands. The iPhone maker successfully prevented Samsung’s local subsidiaries from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia and the Galaxy S, Galaxy Ace and Galaxy S II in the Netherlands. Samsung recently announced that it will tweak its the aforementioned smartphones in an effort to dodge the European sales ban. More →