This week:

Ferris Wheel-Style Takoyaki Machine, Conductive Slime? – Sickly Dog Slime Game, Osaka Fire Dept.’s DIY’d Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Device, Kobe Aqua Robot Competition, Astro Boy Made from Train Tickets, Shuntaro Iizuka: Cardboard Character Costumes, Hair Pins: Yonuko, Hideto Hyodo – Acrylics Craftsman, Web-Controlled Kaleidoscope, and 70’s Robot Glasses.

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Ferris Wheel-Style Takoyaki Machine
A man from Hyogo Prefecture has invented a machine called “Miracle Karakururin” that automatically makes the fried squid octopus treat takoyaki. Additional fun is provided by the machine’s Ferris Wheel shape. All you have to do is set up the ingredients (some batter and some fresh octopus!) and let it rip. The batter and squid are poured out into their heated cooking cups and then the takoyaki are given a whirl around the wheel once, where they are cooked for 20 seconds and then dropped into a container at the bottom. The cooking is accompanied by lively music and flashing LEDs from the machine. It is reported that kids go nuts for this machine, and it is available for rental for any occasion where takoyaki could be enjoyed. A labor-saving device like this immediately brings to mind that old movie “The Doughnuts,” where the doughnut machine malfunctions, it won’t stop making donuts, and wackiness ensues. An overabundance of takoyaki might not be such a bad thing though.

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Conductive Slime? – Sickly Dog Slime Game
To celebrate 30 years of slime this year (has it really been that long already?), MegaHouse will release the “Shivering Dog With a Cold” game on August 2nd. The point of the game is to “save a dog with a cold from bacteria.” Virus and bacteria pieces fall through slime from the dog’s mouth, and the player must try to remove them with a set of tweezers, getting points for each item removed. I didn’t know that slime was a conductor, but apparently if the tweezers touch the slime, a circuit is completed that causes the dog to effectively freak out. The amazing gross-out factor of this game alone could render Operation completely useless with the 6-12 year old boy demographic. 4179円= ~$42. (Thanks, HT).

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Osaka Fire Dept.’s DIY’d Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Device
As there continues to be a string of suicides in Japan by hydrogen sulfide, members of the Osaka Fire Department have collaborated to create their own device that will more quickly bring the hydrogen sulfide in the air to a safe level after an incident, eliminating the need to evacuate bystanders when airing out the area. When used at an actual hydrogen sulfide suicide on the 9th of this month, it brought the gas level in the room from 400 ppm to zero in only 30 minutes. This is compared to the three hours that it normally takes to evacuate an area in order to open a window and let the room air out naturally. This device is scheduled to be given an official trial run for public use on the 16th, and the Osaka FD hopes that similar devices can be put into use throughout Japan. The device, which the fire department made with materials costing only about $100, uses a fan to suck air through a plastic enclosure that is filled with 7 kilograms of activated carbon which absorbs the hydrogen sulfide. (Thanks, HT).

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Kobe Aqua Robot Competition
A robot competition that takes place in a swimming pool, the Oceans 2008 Kobe Aqua Robot Competition was held in Kobe on April 10th, 2008, and participants from all over Asia were there to compete with their water-tight aquatic robots. The competition covered two categories, the UAV Group, in which the underwater vehicles are judged on their ability to navigate to specific points in the pool and were then required to follow a red line and recognize the docking station via colored blinking LEDs. The Biomimetic Robot Group was judged on the ability to perform basic directional movement functions as well as one “original function” such as going backwards, spinning, or jumping. Prototyping robots is hard enough, but the ability to actually make them waterproof is seriously impressive. Inspirational stuff.

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Astro Boy Made from Train Tickets
Oops, Jonah already posted this… I’ll just add that there’s a Mona Lisa too!

A 3.2 x 2.1 meter (10 x 7 ft) work of Astro Boy pixel art made from 138,000 recycled Tokyo Metro tickets is on temporary display at the Shinjuku Takashimaya Department Store (2nd floor) to mark the opening of Tokyo’s new Fukutoshin subway line. Created by volunteers from Takashimaya and other Shinjuku-area businesses, the work depicts Astro Boy, Uran, Professor Ochanomizu and Higeoyaji (Mr. Mustachio) in Shinjuku along with the new Fukutoshin train.

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Shuntaro Iizuka: Cardboard Character Costumes
Shuntaro Iizuka, aka Reizoukoman (Refrigerator Man) is an artist and member of the Wahaha Honpo theater company. Iizuka is famous for his strange and extravagant cardboard costumes that he uses when acting out the roles of his various colorful characters. Daily Portal Z takes us on a guided tour of this artists’s workshop of some of his wilder cardboard creations, proving once again that one person’s garbage can be another person’s jackpot. See also: Reizoukoman on YouTube, Reizoukoman’s blog.

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Hair Pins: Yonuko

Tsumami-kanzashi are exquisite hair pins made from thin silk called ‘habutae,’ often designed to resemble filigree flowers or butterflies. This ancient Japanese craft dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) and, sadly, nowadays they are only worn with traditional Japanese attire on special occasions such as Shichi-Go-San or Coming of Age Day. To change that, PingMag talks with artist Yonuko who aims to revive that craft with her beautifully modern style tsumami-kanzashi that are made of old kimono fabrics.

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Hideto Hyodo – Acrylics Craftsman

Hideto Hyodo creates new and beautiful forms out of acrylic. He’s also the leader of the Modern Manufacturers’ Party, a group which considers the question, “How can we successfully combine beautiful design and high technical skill?” PingMag MAKE spoke to him this week about the road he traveled to become the craftsman and designer that he is today.

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Web-Controlled Kaleidoscope
The Crest Japan company’s web kaleidoscope is a system that allows you to remotely control a physical kaleidoscope in their office and view it on the web. It’s kind of cool to think that you can cause something to move all the way across the globe via the internet. It is reported that this can also be controlled via cell phone, if you’re in Japan. To give it whirl on the net, go here and click on bar (1, below). Depending on the traffic, you might have to wait your turn, but once your turn is up, you can control the lights from the (2) area, the direction from the (3) area, and the position via (4). Once it’s your turn, you get about a minute of time to control the kaleidoscope. Also, the lighting varies depending on the time of day, so it will naturally be darker when it’s nighttime in Japan. This is a pretty inspirational example of what’s to come in the future from web-enabled physical computing. My prediction: Soon there will be a service that lets me clean out some stranger’s refrigerator via cell phone. [via MAKE: Japan]

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70’s Robot Glasses
The makers of many zany useless products, Taro Shoten bring us these “robot glasses” which are actually not recommended for any sort of real-world activity. These glasses are designed to replicate the perspective of the vertically-lined yellow eyes that were popular with Japanese robots in the 70’s. As the ad states, these glasses will seriously compromise your field of vision (maybe that’s why all the robots from the 70’s were always bumping into things). Despite their apparent uselessness, they look quite intense. Bono + robot + jaundice = these glasses. (Thanks, HT!)