Archives: April 2007

Movie QR code and kung fu high school girls

26 Apr 2007

Movie QR Code -- Hakuhodo DY Group i-Business Center and IT DeSign have developed "movie QR code," a type of QR code that incorporates moving video into the design.

QR code is a type of two-dimensional barcode that has grown popular in Japan in recent years, because it provides a simple, automated way for users to enter data into their mobile phones. By using mobile phones to scan QR code that appears in an outdoor advertisement, for example, users may be directed to a website containing more detailed product information.

To personalize the appearance of printed QR code, which looks like a chaotic arrangement of tiny black and white squares, IT DeSign recently developed "Design QR," which incorporates static images of logos, characters or photos into the code. Movie QR code takes this concept a step further by incorporating moving images into the design, thus optimizing it for use on video screens, where it promises to be more effective in attracting the attention of potential scanners. Seriously, how will anyone be able to resist scanning a bit of on-screen QR code if, for example, it contains a cute, bug-eyed critter that literally begs you to scan it?

Movie QR code works just like standard QR code -- any user armed with a reader-equipped cellphone can scan it.

On May 21, the companies plan to launch a new type of advertising service built around the use of movie QR code. Details of the service will be announced soon.

Interestingly, a commercial video containing QR movie code has been circulating the web for a while. The video, called "Kung Fu High School Girls" (Kanfuu Joshi-kousei), begins with two high school girls talking about Black Jack (the famous manga character), who they both think is cool. Things quickly turn ugly when the girls disagree about whether Black Jack is a foreigner or Japanese, and a full-on kung fu battle ensues. After a while, a boy wearing a giant QR code headpiece arrives on his bicycle and urges the girls to stop. By scanning his face, he explains, they can find the answer to their question and settle their dispute. (This is a cue for the viewer to scan the computer screen with a cellphone QR code reader.)

Scanning the movie QR code takes you to (which appears to be accessible only by keitai), where there is a link to another video that contains the answer. For some reason, the Pink Tentacle keitai is having problems downloading that video, so we may never know the truth. Is Black Jack Japanese? Or a foreigner?

[Sources: IT Media, "Kung Fu High School Girl" video (non-YouTube version)]

Chinkosukou: Phallic fertility cookies from Okinawa

25 Apr 2007

Chinkosukou: Phallic fertility cookies from OkinawaWhat happens when you combine chinsukou (a traditional Okinawan cookie made from flour and lots of lard) with chinko (slang for male genitalia)? You get chinkosukou, a phallus-shaped fertility cookie, of course.

The chinkosukou website, which promotes the cookies as a solution to Japan's shrinking population woes, is selling boxes of 15 cookies for 500 yen ($4) each. Shipping appears to be limited to Japan, though, so you may have to ask your buddies in Japan to buy them for you.

The commercial video features words of praise from satisfied customers Roman Chimpolanski (film director), TINKO (talento) and Taro Kodakusan (NEET), as well as from The Fertility Times, which hails chinkosukou as the front-runner for this year's Golden Ball Award.

[Link: Chinkosukou]

NTT’s cellphone-operated remote control home system

25 Apr 2007

Cellphone-operated remote control home ---

NTT-Neomeit, an NTT subisidiary, has unveiled plans for a convenient and inexpensive service that allows users to remotely control home devices from their cellphones. Scheduled for launch in September, the "U-Consento" service is designed to be compatible with a wide range of existing home appliances, so users do not need to purchase new devices or perform extensive home rewiring.

To control devices, users access a web page via cellphone and select the desired operations. The commands are then sent via the web to a wireless router in the home, which relays signals to an infrared transmitter and remote control power switches. The infrared transmitter, which operates like a universal remote, relays those signals to remote controllable devices such as home A/V equipment. Easy-to-install remote control switches connected to power outlets allow users to turn on and off the power to lamps and other devices not pre-equipped with remote control.

Cellphone-operated remote control home --- In addition to being able to control the room temperature, blast the stereo and program the video recorder -- all while outside the home -- users can also check the current operating status of each device and view records of how each device has been used. According to NTT-Neomeit, this ability to monitor device usage provides a convenient way for users to keep tabs on the activity of their elderly parents from afar.

NTT-Neomeit plans to rent the home remote control system starting at around 500 yen ($4) per month, and service will initially be limited to NTT broadband subscribers in western Japan. Pilot testing will be conducted in the Kansai area from May to August.

[Source: Yomiuri, NTT-Neomeit press release]

Robot employed as sex club tout

16 Apr 2007

Robot employed as sex club tout --- Robots can get away with things that humans cannot. In the Minami area of Osaka, for example, a humanoid robot dressed in a "sailor suit" high school uniform now works the street as a tout for an adult information center that navigates potential customers to local sex clubs. Humans in Osaka are prohibited by law from engaging in such nefarious activity.

Since 2005, Osaka law has banned sex club touts from soliciting business on the street. The law also applies to the staff of adult information centers, which guide customers to local establishments such as love hotels, fashion-health massage parlors, cabaret clubs and image clubs. There are 175 of these adult information centers in Osaka prefecture -- more than in any other prefecture in Japan.

But despite the law change, touts have remained on the streets, albeit with slight changes in behavior. Instead of relying on their voice to solicit customers, the touts began to work the streets in silence, using gestures and holding up bright yellow "Ask me!" (Ore ni kike!) signs. Some businesses also made "Ask me!" jackets for their staff. In this way, solicitors have been able to skirt the law by letting potential customers do the approaching.

However, at the end of last month, Osaka law enforcement ordered all sex industry touts to stop carrying signs.

The response this time? Hire a robot to carry the sign. At least, that's what one adult information center has done. The human-sized robo-tout, who used to direct traffic around construction sites, underwent a 500,000 yen ($4,000) upgrade for its new job, which is to attract the attention of passersby by periodically raising and lowering a banner that reads "Ask me!"

The droid's employer foresees no run-ins with the law. "It's a robot, so no problem," says a spokesperson for the information center.

[Source: Asahi 1, Asahi 2]

Video: Vintage robot rampage remix

13 Apr 2007

Old-school anime bots go wild in this video pieced together from the robot battle scenes in Toei's 1965 animated film Gulliver no Uchuu Ryokou ("Gulliver's Space Travels" or "Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon"). The video was created by Steven Wagner of Astropolitan Pictures, and the soundtrack is Japanoise band Melt-Banana's "Alpha Boost," which was remixed for Salvo Beta's Evil Against Evil compilation.

New cement conducts electricity like metal

11 Apr 2007

Electro-conductive cement ---

A team of researchers led by professor Hideo Hosono of the Tokyo Institute of Technology has developed a new type of alumina cement that conducts electricity like metal by altering the crystal structure at the nano level.

Ordinary alumina cement made from a lime-alumina compound (C12A7) has a crystal structure consisting of asymmetric cages, making it a poor conductor of electricity. But by sealing the alumina cement compound along with titanium inside a glass tube and heating it to 1,100 degrees Celsius, the researchers were able to create a homogenized, symmetrical cage structure that conducts electricity like metal.

Results indicate the cement's electrical conductivity is on par with that of manganese at room temperature. Moreover, like other metals, the cement's conductivity increases as its temperature decreases.

The researchers say that forming the cement into thin membranes would make it nearly transparent, making it an ideal substitute material for rare metals such as indium, which is used in plasma and liquid-crystal displays. In addition to being cheaper than rare metals, the cement would make an environmentally-friendly alternative because its ingredients are more readily available.

The Tokyo Institute of Technology worked with researchers from Osaka Prefecture University, the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), and the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (SPring-8) to develop the cement. The results are published in the April 11 edition of Nano Letters.

[Sources: Nikkei Net, Mainichi, SPring-8 press release]

Convicted seditionist loses bid for Tokyo governorship, creates YouTube stir

10 Apr 2007

Kouichi Toyama ---

The Tokyo gubernatorial election results are in, and it is no big surprise that incumbent Ishihara was re-elected in a landslide. But the online buzz surrounding "fringe" candidate Kouichi Toyama's unsuccessful campaign has yet to dissipate.

The street musician, who recently served two years in prison for sedition, made a controversial campaign speech that was televised nationwide on NHK prior to the election. Copies were then posted to video sharing sites like YouTube, where they became popular.

The Tokyo election management committee contacted YouTube several days before the election, demanding the videos be removed to "ensure fairness in the election process." But the committee's demands apparently went unheeded, as countless versions of the video remain on the site.

Here's the video (with English subtitles by Anime World):

(Check here for other Toyama videos on YouTube, including parodies, cutups, and remixes w/ soundtracks.)

While Toyama only tallied about 15,000 votes out of the roughly 5.5 million votes cast citywide, he and a few hundred supporters still saw reason to gather at Koenji station for an election night celebration. Toyama arrived at the festivities on his scooter carrying a television, which he and his supporters later watched for coverage of the election results.

Other notable eccentrics in the gubernatorial race included Dr. Nakamats (the wacky, prolific inventor whose list of 3,000 creations includes the floppy disk), Kisho Kurokawa (the well-known Metabolist architect), Kinzo Sakura (a comedian) and Kumiko Uchikawa (a feng shui expert).

[Via: Iza!]

Itasha: Pimped rides, otaku style

05 Apr 2007

This is what happens when otaku start pimping their rides...

Ita-sha ---

Ita-sha ---

Ita-sha ---

Ita-sha ---

Ita-sha ---

Ita-sha ---

Ita-sha ---

See more of these itasha photos at New Akiba, which takes a peek inside Itasha Road 2007, a recently published mook profiling over 150 itasha and their proud owners.

Itasha are cars decorated with decals and paint jobs depicting anime, game and manga characters. The word itasha, which literally means "painful car," is derived from the kanji for itai ("painful") and sha ("car"). The word also appears to be a reference to the Italian sportscar, also known as itasha (although the ita for Italian is spelled with katakana instead of kanji), a conventional sort of chick magnet driven by a different sort of guy.

Otaku itasha have been around since the late '80s, but they have remained relatively rare, perhaps because people have traditionally felt the need to keep their otaku nature to themselves. But as the subculture goes mainstream and otaku develop a greater sense of pride, more itasha are bound to be taking to the streets.

Check out the following sites for more awesome pictures of itasha:

- Yoshimu's blog (via Danny Choo)
- ASCII 24 p.1, ASCII p.2 (via Japanator)
- Painful Style

[Via: /. Japan]

Printing with DNA

05 Apr 2007

DNA --- Tokyo-based Ko-sin Printing has developed a printing process that allows authors to add a more personal touch to their printed works by using ink that includes their DNA.

Once DNA is extracted from a human (or animal) hair or nail sample provided by the author, it is blended with a special ink and used in the printing process. Ko-sin has already put the technology to use in some self-published autobiographies whose title pages are printed with ink that includes the author's DNA. Mixing DNA in with the ink does not alter the appearance of the page, the company says.

Ko-sin also claims it is possible to extract genetic information from materials printed using this process. When the company sent a sample page to a DNA laboratory, the lab technicians were able to isolate and extract the DNA from the page.

The patent-pending printing process was invented by Ko-sin's president, Mr. Yoshida, who drew upon his years of experience researching and developing ink. Ko-sin hopes the process will appeal to autobiographers who want to add value to their work by including their DNA, or to people who wish to insert the DNA of beloved pets into printed materials. The company is now investigating other potential applications.

[Source: GIGAZINE]