The 7 Japanese Start-Ups That Are Making Stuff You'll Want to Own

Qoobo | 心を癒やす、しっぽクッション。| © Qoobo / YouTube
Qoobo | 心を癒やす、しっぽクッション。| © Qoobo / YouTube
Photo of Lucy Dayman
13 February 2018

The future is here thanks to the brilliant minds of Japan’s tech start-up world, responsible for fascinating gadgets you didn’t know you needed – until now. From relaxing robotic cat pillows through to smart cameras, here’s our pick of start-ups and their new innovative tech creations you’re going to want to own.

Qoobo: the cushion blurring the line between animal and robot

A disembodied tail that moves like an animal but is actually a cushion-robot hybrid sounds far from something you’d actually want to buy, but in reality it’s a rather therapeutic creation for the cat loving population of Japan.

Created by a Japanese robot company Yukai Engineering, Qoobo is meant to be the perfect artificial companion for those who are unable to own a real pet. Unveiled last year at a number of tech conferences, the creation is gaining traction online and seems strangely loveable. Selling for around $100 USD and available for pre-order, the faux-kitty cushions come in two realistic colours, Husky Grey and French Brown.

Scentee Machina: move over scented candles, the future is here

Have you ever thought ‘oh if only I had an artificially intelligent air diffuser in my life’? Probably not, but now you will. Scentee Machina is a steam punk-looking smart diffuser that’s connected to your smartphone. Are you planning on going out and want to set the mood? There’s a scent for that. Want your place to smell fresh just before you get home? No problem, set the Scentee Machina automatic time.

With a huge range of fragrances and setting for a variety of moods and preferred atmospheres, looking at this makes scented candles seem simply archaic. Now all it needs is the ability to share your own crafted scents.

PLEN Cube: the Go-Pro’s new and improved cousin

A little palm-sized robot assistant and photographer all rolled into one, Plen Cube is a motion sensor activated, voice activated recognising camera that also has a smart tech system, which can sync and interact with your online photo library. A completely hands-free tool, this gadget takes photos on command and uploads them directly to your device. The sensors mean that no mater where you are, the camera lens is always following your movements, ensuring that you’ll the get perfectly cropped shot every time.

Hachi Tama: the most hi-tech dog bowl in the world

While the Qoobo is for those not allowed pets, the Hachi Tama is for owners of real life animals that need to be fed. An automated feeder with an inbuilt camera, this super high tech dog bowl allows pet parents to keep an eye on their fur babies from wherever they are. If it seems like overkill, just remember Japan is a country where doggy strollers are a common sighting, so really parental spy cameras are pretty much just the next logical step.

Pyrenee Drive: when Minority Report meets road safety

Pyrenee Drive is doing its bit to make the roads a little safer. It’s a clear dashboard drive screen that’s part iPhone, part navigation system, and part Minority Reportstyle equipment. The transparent screen displays easy-to-see road information like speed statistics and directions, while also notifying the driver of any potential dangers. Though it’s not on the market yet, it’s gaining a lot of attention from start-up sites across the world.

Atmoph window: travel the world from your living room

Pretty much the closest we’ve come to accessible teleportation, the Atmoph digital window is not quite a painting, not quite a TV screen, not quite a window, but kind of all those things rolled into one. Featuring high quality video and accompanying audio, the Atmoph window displays a variety of landscapes, so you can basically pretend you’re anywhere in the world.

Sit it on your desk, hang it on your wall and voila, your room now has a whole new world to look out on to. The creators of Atmoph are travelling the globe constantly, collecting new spots from across the world to add to the Atmoph digital collection. Now you can travel the world from your bed, desk, living room, bathroom – basically wherever you want.

KDJ-ONE: the portable audio studio

This one is for all the budding and professional music producers out there. Created by CyberStep, Inc. the KDJ-One is a completely portable music studio filled to the brim with all the equipment you need to start making, editing and producing music. It has an inbuilt synthesiser, microphone and a whole bunch of already added music patterns created by some of the biggest names in music, including Sid Wilson from Slipknot, as well as big name composers from the gaming world including Yasunori Mitsuda and Hiroki Kikuta. To get started, all you have to do is plug it into your laptop or device of your choosing, and start creating.