Hello Haro!

Haro, the cute robot mascot of the anime series “Mobile Suit Gundam,” is about to get real as Bandai’s new communication robot, slated to launch some time next year. Earlier this month, a prototype was showcased at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies trade show, where it was greeted with much attention from fans.

Bandai’s Haro is an interactive communication robot, equipped with AI and an abundance of pre-programmed knowledge about “Gundam.” It has voice-recognition and responds to questions by using key words to draw answers from its database. It can also create quizzes on “Gundam” trivia for the user. Equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Haro can be connected to smartphones and used as a speaker or alarm clock, but really it’s more charming just as a communication tool. It can sway side-to-side, swivel to face the person talking to it and make expressions with its LED eyes and mouth and moving ear-like flaps.

This little fellow was born from a collaboration with other big names — IBM developed its AI, while Sony VAIO designed its circuitry and produced it — so it’s a quality gadget for anime fans to look forward to.


The ideal compact for selfies

Since Instagram, it has become so important to look good in selfies that many people filter and adjust reality on a daily basis. Casio’s TR-M11 has been designed for such people — ones who prefer a little tampering with the results.

Shaped like a compact powder case, the TR-M11 is aimed at women, but that shouldn’t, and probably won’t, stop men from using it. When flipped open, the compact’s lid houses a lens where the mirror normally would be and a touchscreen where the powder usually is.

The lens has eight LEDs surrounding it, which can be controlled to make the user’s skin look brighter or produce different contouring effects. Casio claims that with the right lighting you can even make your face look slimmer. If that’s not enough, there is also a whole range of effects, from arty lighting filters to fixes for skin blemishes.

It takes square photos, so is ideal for Instagram, and when fully charged it can take 225 shots, which can be downloaded directly to smart phones using the Exilim Connect app. Since it’s all about personal style, it also comes in various colors.

Despite the nation’s renowned past love of purikura (“print club” photo-booth) photo stickers — pre-Instagram selfies — there’s been no announcement of a release date in Japan for the TR-M11. But it surely must be coming soon.


Intruders? Socket to them

Security cameras are everywhere these days, but not everyone has the time or budget to set up a home-security system, something that has led to the invention of various easy-install gadgets.

This month, computer parts and accessories sales company Aiuto is releasing Kalay Home, its light-bulb security camera, which you simply slot into a regular bayonet mount. Since light fixtures are usually optimally positioned to illuminate an entire room, light-bulb security cameras make sense. They’re likely to be quite central, are less conspicuous than wall cameras and can run off the electricity mains.

The Kalay Home has a fish-eye lens that covers an entire room, as well as an infrared sensor that will detect movement in a radius of up to 4 meters. If it does detect something, an LED is turned on while it records for one minute. Footage is saved to a Micro SD card, but users can also check any unusual activity in realtime via a smartphone app, which is also used to control settings.

If you really want to freak out an unwanted guest, the camera also has a microphone and speakers, so you can give your intruder a warning, or use it to communicate with others in the home. It needs to be connected to Wi-Fi and up to four users can access one device, while a maximun of 16 can be monitored with one smartphone. Each device is priced at ¥15,580.


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