If your idea of bleeding-edge tech is the iPhone 6, we’re about to blow your mind. While you can get your ingenious gadgets, electronic wizardry and generally out-there inventions in America, any number of Asian countries will probably have us beat.
We’ve partnered with the Toyota Prius to highlight Asian gadgets and gizmos that fill us with envy. Check out these innovative products that we wish we could find in the States.
A Headset That Records And Plays Your ‘Thoughts’
From Japan comes the Neurocam: a wearable headset that purports to read your emotions and creates a GIF accordingly. In practice, this means that the camera mount employs an EEG (electroencephalograph) reader, which detects mental activity via changes to the electrical impulses that travel across the surface of your brain. While the Neurocam may detect that you’re feeling an emotion -- like excitement or heightened interest -- it won’t detect that you’re feeling melancholy while, say, gazing at a receding ocean wave. The device responds by “telling” your smartphone to record the moment and create a looping, 5-second GIF.
Why we want it: This fulfills our millennial urge to both star in a real-life, post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie and find the perfect GIF for our many and varied emotions.
A Device That Wakes You Up At Your Subway Stop
The “Noriko-san” LED headset was created by inventor and manga artist Pyocotan, who, like the rest of us, is presumably terrified of falling asleep on the train and waking up in unchartered territory. The device functions both as a sleep mask and a signal to other passengers; the LED screen shows exactly where you’ll be getting off the train so fellow riders can alert you if you’ve nodded off. Of course, the device isn’t perfect: since its success ultimately relies on the kindness of strangers, Pyocotan’s first test failed. (Nobody woke the poor guy up!). Even though there’s definitely an app for this, we truly appreciate the novelty of the headset and the innocent trust it places in humanity.
Why we want it: For those who want to catch a little more shut-eye on their daily commute … and avoid that moment when they realize they’ve reached the dreaded end of the line.
A ‘Smart Eye’ For The Blind
Here’s how it works: First, a visually impaired person takes a photograph. Then, a ‘micro-volunteer,’ or virtual volunteer, receives the image and describes it in detail to the photographer. As of 2013, the blog Tech in Asia reported that a network of 200 micro-volunteers existed on the platform, and 3,000 clients from the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and the Singapore Association for the Deaf had adopted the technology. According to one user, the app made him feel “more socially connected with the world,” a human contrast to his usual tech-driven apps.
Why we want it: This is a technology that tangibly helps others, and a way for people to volunteer when they only have a few seconds of time to spare.
A Sound Blocker For Your More … Private Moments
The Japanese are no strangers to the avant-garde toilet -- in fact, they’ve recently established Toilenniale, a toilet-themed arts festival, to celebrate the majestic throne’s rise from its humble origins. A regular sight in Japan is a “Washlet” that will cleanse your bottom, adjust seat temperature to your comfort, open and close automatically, and block unseemly odors. But if you can’t get your hands on a space toilet, you can at least elevate your restroom experience with a Keitai ("Mobile") Otohime, a device that mimics the sound of a flushing toilet to mask the sound of nature’s call … without wasting water.
Why we want it: Doesn't everyone want to maintain some semblance of privacy in public restrooms?
A Smart Bike That Will Help You Get Around … AND Get Healthy
Designed by the Chinese search company Baidu, the DuBike will use sensors, artificial intelligence software and the company’s Internet data to make sure you’re on the right track -- both in terms of your health and your location. Baidu claims that the operating system will be able to design a route through crowdsourcing, create custom workout plans for your particular needs and employ theft-prevention technology. A prototype will be released later this year.
Why we want it: While we enjoy leisurely bike rides, it's thrilling to act like we're secretly training for the Tour de France.
An Umbrella That Will Make Rainy Days A Pleasure
Currently only in prototype, the Pileus umbrella boasts a built-in camera, motion sensor, GPS and a compass. Stuck on a street corner on a rainy day and don’t know where to turn? Turn on the 360-degree map function, and a bird’s-eye-view map will project on the umbrella’s surface. See something cool? Use the camera function to photograph, upload and share the moment online. Waiting for a bus? Explore a photostream on Flickr.
Why we want it: Because there’s nothing worse than being stuck in the rain while you're lost and bored.