Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Today’s J-blip: Mannan Rebā replaces beef liver sashimi

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

fake liver

Mannan Rebā, “liver” made from konnyaku, stands in for the real thing. Photo courtesy of Haisky

As of July 1, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare banned Japan’s restaurants from serving rebā-sashi — beef liver sashimi — a raw dish popular at yakiniku restaurants. It was only a matter of time, of course, before someone began promoting a substitute. After all, Japan is the country that brought the world kanikama — fake crabmeat.

Enter Mannan Rebā. It’s made from sheets of konnyaku (arrowroot jelly), a traditional gelatinous foodstuff commonly found in oden. Haisky, the Kagawa Prefecture konnyaku manufacturer behind the product, introduced the imitation liver last fall — before the ban was announced but after the deadly food poisonings that prompted it.

It seems to be hitting the spot. The company has so far sold over 300,000 packs of Mannan Rebā — over half of them since the ban kicked in.

Today’s J-blip: K-Pocke pocket

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Form meets function, but unfortunately not fashion. K-Pocke (say “kay po-kay”) is a new line of shirts with a uniquely designed pocket to safely secure your mobile device. Shake, rattle and roll all you want. Nothing will fall out due to the convoluted way it’s constructed, they claim. I’m as worried as the next person about dropping my phone. Unfortunately, I’m more worried about looking like Steve Urkel. Cool innovation, but it might have a better chance if it were still the 90′s — and if pants didn’t have pockets.

Eco batteries bring new meaning to the term “juiced”

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Anyone who’s had their laptop or cellphone run out of juice at a crucial moment can attest to the limitations that present power storage methods have on technology, but a product from Aqua Power Systems Japan may indicate an amazing new advancement: the water-powered battery.

At their present capability, NoPoPo (No Pollution Power) Eco batteries have enough power to save lives during a disaster since they can run on the smallest amount of fluid (drinkable or bodily), which means that someone lost in the woods or trapped under rubble could recharge their flashlight easily with a few drops of whatever is available.

But don’t start peeing on your laptop just yet: For the time being, NoPoPo batteries have significant limitations — just the double-A form is available and can only run low-powered items like flashlights and toy trains (see video above) but if they find a way to expand capacity, the NoPoPo could revolutionize how – and for how long – we work and communicate on electronic devices.

They may also represent an interesting twist in environmental policy, as the mercury, lead and other hazardous chemicals in today’s used batteries cause considerable harm when burned or left to rot in landfills.

In earthquake-prone places like Japan, however, practicality will sell more units than quixotic concerns. I mean, what’s going to power your Wii and Nintendo DS when the “big one” hits?

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