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Most people use memory cards, USB flash sticks, Bluetooth or even CDs for transferring data from one PC to another. Communications provider KDDI is thinking outside the box, and inside the human body, creating a brilliant piece of technology called Intra-Body Communication.

Using the human body, they've discovered that high-volume data like video and music can be transferred, at a frequency of less than 40MHz.

The video glasses seen in the photo above are fitted with copper coils that deliberately touch the wearer's forehead, and when the metal heart is touched at the same time, video is transmitted from the heart to the glasses, as well as to an external PC monitor.

According to this random Japanese blog we stumbled across recently, KDDI hopes one day this technology will allow for video downloads to mobile phones to be made by humans simply touching a movie poster whilst out and about. Obviously this is just a concept at the moment, but if you're keen on seeing a slice of the possible future, head on over to Tokyo and visit KDDI's Designing Studio to view this amazing display.

(via CScout Japan)

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digital-aromatic-signs.jpgAs if our noses don't get assaulted enough with vile scents in the form of pungent perfumes, stinky body odour, and overcooked food when out and about, a company over in Japan has created aroma-emitting digital sign technology.

Or 'Smell-o-vision', as our Editor In Chief, Stuart, described. Dubbed 'Kaoru Digital Signage' by NTT Communications, the electronic signs will be stationed outside the Kirin City Beer Hall at the Yaesu Shopping Mall in Tokyo (get your noses plugged-up in preparation, shoppers) until the end of December. The aromas being pumped out of the signs will attempt to lure people into the restaurant with the hunger-inducing scents of lemon and orange.

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There's nothing like a spot of futuregazing to bring out the awestruck geek in me, and NTT DoCoMo didn't disappoint during a visit to their showroom this morning. The Japanese operator has a promotional video showing what 4G handsets might look like when they come out around 2010.

In short, they're more like virtual reality headsets than current mobile phones: the theory is you'll hold them up to your eyes, and they'll overlay virtual stuff and pop-up information onto the real-world background. I know that sounds strange, but wait till you see the video...

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I bloody love fairground grabber machines, I do. Even when they're rigged so you've got zero hope of ever actually hoisting a soft toy out. And I like this one, which can be found at Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo's showroom in Tokyo, even more.

Why? Partly because I won, and partly because it's an example of NTT DoCoMo's use of near-field communication to let you pay for stuff by pressing your mobile phone against a sensor, with not a coin in sight. Check the video over the jump to see how it works, and to see the same technology being used in, surprise surprise, a vending machine.

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I've already posted a few things from KDDI's showcase Design Studio in Tokyo today, but there was plenty more mobile stuff to gawp at. Here's a few of the highlights, starting with...

Casio Exilim W53CA mobile (above). It has a five-megapixel camera and is clearly rocking the same convergence thang as Sony Ericsson's Cyber-shot handsets. I wonder if Casio will ever bring this range West.

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One of the most interesting zones in KDDI's Design Studio store in Tokyo is the area where they show off a range of fashion phones, created by a bunch of top Japanese designers.

The ones above are the Infobar 2, which is due to go on sale next month in Japan. They're quite long and thin, which you might think would put users off, but apparently they've already created a huge buzz in Japan since being announced earlier this year.

But the Infobar 2 was accompanied by a parade of interesting handsets. Click over the jump below for a video of them all, and individual images to dribble / laugh over (delete as appropriate).

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I wrote with a slightly surprised air that removable fascias are still popular in Korea the other day, but judging by a visit to KDDI's Design Studio store in Tokyo this morning, the same is true in Japan.

They're way cool though, check out some of the designs above, and over the jump.

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"Who would like to watch TV while they're in the bath?" asked a chap from Japanese operator KDDI, during his presentation this morning at the company's Design Studio in Tokyo. Er...

Anyway, it was a cue to show off the W53SA phone, which lets you watch 1seg digital TV (that's the Japanese standard), but is also fully waterproof, so works even when you dunk it in a big bowl of water. Which I proceeded to do:

Tech Digest Korea/Japan Week posts
Day One roundup
Day Two roundup

Korea/Japan Week: Day Two Roundup

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Right now, I'm sitting in a Tokyo hotel room, trying to make sense of all the new mobile stuff I saw in Korea, to clear my brain for a day of futuristic Japanese phones tomorrow. With jetlag. It's all going a bit fuzzy round the edges.

To wrap up the posts from Korea though. A visit to LG's demo centre threw up lots of interesting stories. The company's concept Rolex handset was intriguing, while the revelation that every UK operator will be selling the LG Viewty made me wonder how O2 will price it compared to the iPhone.

lg-logo.jpgIt was a frustrating experience nosing around LG's mobile demo room in its Seoul office today. There were loads of new phones sprinkled around the room, but no photographs were allowed. You'll have to excuse the image-free nature of this post, in other words.

Pick of the bunch was the new K520 handset, which is currently codenamed 'Corona' (although this isn't final apparently). It's a smartphone running the Windows Mobile 6 operating system, with a full 2.8-inch touchscreen, two-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and push-email.

"It looks like the Prada, but with more features in it," said the guide. The phone has been signed up by Vodafone, and is due to go on sale shortly. And there were plenty more new phones where that came from...

rfid-banking.jpgIf there's one thing I want to see in Korea and Japan, it's people slapping their mobile phones down and Doing Stuff with them. You know, paying for shopping, getting cans out of vending machines. That kind of thing. A visit to Korean operator SK Telecom's demo centre yesterday didn't disappoint.

They were showing some of the applications for RFID technology, and it made for an interesting selection. Starting with...

1. RFID Banking (left). Go up to an ATM, hold your phone against the special sensor, and receive cash and/or a statement without a debit card in sight. Apparently more than one million people are using the service in Korea now, paying a monthly fee for it.

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At the end of my visit to the LG Demo Centre, they showed a quick presentation of another concept phone, called NYX. It has the slogan ‘Display Only Card Phone’, although that could be a way of saying ‘not for sale concept device’ I guess.

Anyway, it’s interesting, with a three-inch touchscreen and five-megapixel camera, and a big jog-wheel on the back of the device, which is used for everything from zooming while taking photos to altering the volume when listening to music.

There’s also an ‘Advanced Shake Reduction Key’ for making your photos a bit less cack-handed. No idea when (or even if) it will launch, but I do have a blurry snapshot of the phone as it appeared on-screen - see above.

What with this and the Rolex concept phone, LG certainly has plenty of ideas for where its next Chocolate / Shine / Viewty is coming from.

Tech Digest Korea/Japan Week posts
Day One roundup
Day Two roundup

lg-rolex-mobile.pngYou’ll have to trust me on this one, as I wasn’t allowed to take photographs inside LG’s mobile demonstration room. But one wall has a display of concept mobile phones, including a model that’s basically a phone with a Rolex watch-face embedded in the casing.

It’s unclear whether LG and Rolex are actively working together on the watch, or whether it’s just an LG designer’s idea of how such a phone could look if they were. Rolex buffs would certainly approve - the phone had a luxurious leathery exterior, and looked reassuringly expensive.

We’ve had a spate of fashion phones (LG Prada, Samsung Armani), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see high-end watchmakers as the next set of partners for mobile manufacturers.

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O2 might have signed an exclusive deal to sell Apple’s iPhone in the UK, but the operator appears to be hedging its bets by also signing up to sell LG’s Viewty - one of the iPhone’s fiercest rivals.

However, O2 won’t be the only UK operator selling the Viewty - they all will. That’s what I found out during a visit to LG’s Seoul demo centre today, anyway. Besides giving a hands-on demo of the Viewty, LG said that it’ll be sold through Vodafone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and 3 in Europe, and showed a model that was branded as O2.

The O2 angle is really interesting, especially when we see how much O2 sells the Viewty for, in comparison to iPhone’s £269 price tag.

Korea/Japan Week: Day One Roundup

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At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful visitor, coming to South Korea expecting to see super-whizzy mobile phones can be a slight let-down. It's not that the phones aren't cool - they are - but they're not that far ahead of what we have, thanks to the efforts of Samsung and LG to export their new handsets to Europe more quickly after they come out in Korea.

Where Korea is still ahead of the West is in usage of the mobile internet and related features, from music and games through to social networking. The mobile operators here get 20-25% of their revenues from mobile data, including messaging - a figure Western operators can only dream of.

Anyway, today I've posted about ten cool things on show at Samsung's Anycall store, shot a video of its fun touchscreen-based phone recommender, and wondered why removable fascias are enjoying a new lease of life.

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Us Westerners know that South Korea is ahead of us in terms of mobile technology, but we often assume that everything that's launched there is successful, simply because it's innovative. It appears that's not always the case though, with DMB a prime example.

It's digital mobile TV, comparable to having a Freeview or Sky receiver in your mobile phone in the UK, rather than watching streaming TV over your 3G connection. S-DMB (satellite) and T-DMB (terrestrial) have been available in Korea since 2005, but both have encountered problems which are less to do with the technology, and more to do with how they actually make money.

Korea/Japan Week: Manhunt The Musical?!

the-victim-musical.jpgWhy isn't Andrew Lloyd-Webber writing musicals about serial killers stalking and killing people in a gruesome way? The heady mix of slaughter and showtunes would pack in the crowds. Possibly.

That's what came to mind when I spotted this poster for a South Korean musical called The Victim. Judging by the poster, it's more than a little influenced by games like Manhunt and Silent Hill. Survival horror hits the stage? Sounds like a good idea to me.

Tech Digest Korea/Japan Week posts
Day One roundup
Day Two roundup

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I had a nose around Korean mobile operator SK Telecom's demo centre today, where it was showing off its latest mobile services. Most were serious, but there was the odd bit of quirky tech too, such as this Pet Care service.

Basically, it's an automatic food dispenser, which pops out biscuits for your cat or dog to munch on, while you're on holiday or away from the house. But here's the fun part: you control it by mobile phone.

So, you dial in and make the device sound a ringtone to call your pet, then press a button to dispense the food, and then watch them eat it via streaming video from the device's built-in webcam. Why haven't Vodafone launched this sort of thing yet, hmm?

Tech Digest Korea/Japan Week posts
Day One roundup
Day Two roundup

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Don't snort with laughter. In the West, fascias might be old news - remember the days when any market stall worth its salt was selling covers for your Nokia phone? But it seems fascias are enjoying a new lease of life in South Korea.

At least, that's the impression I got from Samsung's Anycall store in Seoul, where the SPH-6600 was on show with its ten optional fascias (three come with the handset, and seven more can be bought separately. Apparently it's really popular, too.

If Korea really is 6-12 months ahead of Europe when it comes to handset features, then watch for fascia mania all over again sometime next year. Maybe. By the way, check out ten other cool things from the Anycall store, and also its nifty touchscreen phone recommender.

Tech Digest Korea/Japan Week posts
Day One roundup
Day Two roundup

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Video-calling hasn’t taken off in the West yet, which I’d put mostly down to the fact that once you openly start using it, your boss and/or partner will assume they can videocall you at any time and see exactly what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it with.

It’s a slippery slope for anyone pulling a sickie, having an affair, or just going about their business in a private way. And y’know what? South Korea may be one of the most advanced mobile markets in the world, but people there don’t want it either. This is despite the fact that operators and handset manufacturers are keen to tout it as a hot new service.

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