Posts Tagged ‘mobile apps’

Koe moe apps find their voice on smartphones

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Melting the coldest of hearts and turning the most rigid of spines to jelly, certain voices can have an almost magical effect on us.  This effect has been dubbed “koe moe” (vocal charm) in Japan and, according to a recent study carried out by Trend Soken, Japanese apps with that “moe” voice are seducing smartphone users in droves. The report, published at the end of February, included a survey of 500 young male and female smartphone users. A whopping 82 percent of respondents said they had downloaded apps that have an enjoyable vocal element.

To satisfy the predilections of this growing market, some developers have been recruiting the talents of seiyu (voice actors) who have established a name for themselves in the anime industry. Seiyu have proved to be big draws for the game industry, so it’s no surprise that there is a big buzz around “Girlfriend,” a smartphone dating game in beta testing that employs the talents of more than 60 seiyu, including Yui Horie, Hitomi Harada and Haruka Tomatsu.

Moe koe apps are not limited to games. “Rodoku Shojo” (Young Girl Reading Aloud) has, according to Japan Internet, been a massive hit, with downloads hitting the one million mark this month. The concept is simple: a young animated girl in a school uniform reads a book of your choice in a sugary voice. Check out the video above to get an idea. The app “Dentaku Girl” (Calculator Girl)  a friendly face and voice on your calculator. It’s possible to get Dentaku Girl to change her outfits as she reads out calculations to you from your screen background. In this way koe moe adds a personal touch to smartphone apps, increasing their user appeal.

About 66 per cent of respondents said that they preferred a certain kind of voice in a member of the opposite sex. Preferences were revealed to be highly personal: While a high-pitched girly tone can grate on one person’s nerves like a fork down a blackboard, it could just as easily make a grown-up businessman weak at the knees. One 29-year-old guy described his preference as “a little nasal and cute.” Another 36-year-old guy admitted a weakness for a “low and calm, charming voice.” A 19-year-old woman said she was into “a deep calm voice that makes you feel tenderly protected.” While a 25-year-old woman stated a liking for “a husky voice that sounds a little decayed.”

Smartphones hook up with domestic appliances

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The iRemocon device controls your domestic appliances via smartphone

Want to turn on the AC so that you can come home to a cool apartment, or run a bath before you even step through the door? Clever systems that allow you to remotely control your household appliances from your smartphone are now trending in Japan. The iRemocon from Glamo, Inc  has been on the market since last summer and an Android version went on the market at the end of January this year.  DENSO, working with Toyota Housing and Misawa Homes, has a  system called HEMS (home energy management system) in the pipeline, although the launch appears to have been delayed.

Apart from the rush of omnipotence it gives gadget freaks, being able to remotely dominate your domestic domain from afar also benefits the environment by encouraging increased energy efficiency. The aircon, for example, can be set to be switched off automatically during the night with a pre-programmed function (though it has to be said that there are plenty of air conditioners on the market that already enable you to do this) and the remote feature allows you to make sure you haven’t left appliances on when you’re out of the house.

Both systems use a device installed in the home that can be programmed to communicate with domestic electronic devices. Though iRemocon appears to have beaten the HEMS system to the punch with its launch last year, HEMS will provide useful data to the customer about energy consumption and CO2 emissions, giving it the edge as an environmentally friendly product.

But otaku props go to iRemocon, which gives users the ability to customize their own remote control skin on their smartphone app and also lets users record their favorite TV shows while they’re out. Another bonus of the system is that it can be used to guard against theft: When you’re on holiday you can pre-program your home lights to be switched off and on, giving the impression that the place is occupied.

Panasonic is also exploring ways to get smartphones interacting with appliances. The new SR-SX2 Series of rice cookers and NE-R Series of steam ovens (to be launched in June) are both programmable by smartphone. Simply hover the smartphone over the device to set up the cooking times. If you’re wondering why people would choose to do this rather than pushing the buttons on the device itself, the answer is that this way things are supposedly simplified. The app for these products has a database of recipes which users can choose from. Once they’ve decided on the meal they’re going to cook, the app manages the settings on the appliance for you. An attractive option for those who can’t be bothered to read the manual.

Companies connect with free mobile apps

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Enticing smartphone users with high-tech functions and original content, Japanese businesses have begun engaging customers by releasing custom mobile apps for free download. In the process, they’re managing to slip in a strong marketing messages into the pockets of loyal fans and potential customers.

Wego's app offers style tips from the store's staff

On Jan. 24, Doutor, a national chain of coffee shops. launched their Doutor AR app. Made to be used in conjunction with the free magazine It’s My Times, the app displays animation and text on the user’s smartphone via augmented-reality technology. Users simply hover their phone’s camera over special points on the magazine to view these extra features. The magazine, available only in Doutor shops, is designed to be read while customers relax with a cup of coffee. This app, available only until the end of February, is a clever way to attract more readers while also boosting brand profile. One of the attractions of downloading the app for readers of the magazine is the opportunity to watch and listen to a song performed by cover star Lisa Ono.

Another brand that is creatively engaging with smartphone app technology, is Wego. On Jan. 10 the second-hand clothes chain launched its own branded app, which offers free wallpaper, a GPS-aware store locator, staff blogs and photos of staff with information on how they coordinated their look. The app also seems to be yet another mutation of the charismatic shop assistant cult (shop assistants gaining near celebrity status).

Of course not everyone desires style tips from super trendy shop assistants. Dechau Pachinko parlor is targeting a slightly different user (predominantly male perhaps?) with its Dechau Girls Calendar 2012, a free Android app that utilizes the ever-popular beach babe. In case you didn’t know, the Dechau Girls, who have been touring pachinko parlors since 2007, cheer on players and hand out candies and hot towels. While they’re usually dressed in bright skintight outfits, this free calendar app gives fans a chance to see the girls relaxing at the beach in itsy bitsy bikinis.

The final app on our list also has a straightforward, unsophisticated appeal. Chiyoda, a company that owns over 1,100 shoe stores nationwide, has launched an app that provides users with discount coupons. Once users enter their personal info (date of birth, sex, location of the store they’re visiting), they can then receive coupons tailored to their needs. Nothing fancy — you scratch our back, we’ll scratch yours — but for a country that’s obsessed with customer point cards and coupons, this is an app that’s bound to stick.

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