UEI was honored with a unique opportunity late last month when renowned game creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi granted 30 seconds of his talk at TEDxTokyo to share our new collaborative game project.

In partnership with Dentsu, UEI will create “BANG: 100 Million Mines,” a societal contribution game designed to draw attention to the plight of Cambodians facing one landmine for every man, woman, and child in their country. The mobile game will bring this plight home, re-imagining Japan as a wasteland with 100 million landmines buried underfoot. Players will use their smartphones to seek out and disarm the buried traps, and in the process will be encouraged to donate to actual relief efforts in Cambodia. By using gameplay to solve a real-world problem, we are placing ourselves on the cutting edge of “gamification,” a process by which daily life is infused with the gaming process.

Now, here’s the catch: in order to promote this endeavor at TEDxTokyo, Dentsu and UEI had less than a single night to design the game, program a demo, and create a 30 second video to send to Mr. Mizuguchi.

And so it was that team members from UEI and Dentsu gathering together at 9 p.m. at the Akihabara Research Center (ARC, a penthouse-esque extension of the UEI headquarters) for an all-night adventure. The team gathered around a table, consulted on Skype with Mr. Mizuguchi, and then got to work:

First on the agenda was selecting a title. The requirements of appealing to both Japanese and English sensibilities led to much head-scratching before we finally settled on “BANG: 100 Million Mines:”

With this accomplished, our talented programmers set to work making a short demo of the game. As they labored away, Dentsu’s copywriters sat down and together we storyboarded the sequence of events in the video. 30 seconds may seem short, but if used properly a complex message can be conveyed in that time:

Finally, with dawn creeping over the horizon, we shot the video and edited it together, working feverishly to meet our 11 a.m. deadline.

What happened at 11 a.m., you ask? Well, that would be when we presented the finished product to Mr. Mizuguchi over Skype. To our great relief, he took an instant liking to it. And, one week later, he was on stage at TED, delivering his trademark blend of wit and insight. Watch for the “BANG” video near the very end:

Thank you, Mr. Mizuguchi, for this fantastic opportunity, and thank you Dentsu for your hard work during a long and very fun evening!

They lurk in your local high schools and convenience stores. Their innocuous garb and unassuming appearance belies their true nature. When you recognize them for what they really are, it may already be too late.

I’m referring, of course, to the next generation of game developers! (what did you think I was talking about?!)

UEI is proud to partner with D2 Communications (a creation of NTT Docomo and Dentsu) to present 9leap, a contest to discover the next generation of talented Japanese mobile game creators. Games should be designed for a mobile platform by Japanese programmers from elementary school age through age 25. The contest will run twice, once from May 1 to August 31 and again from September 1 to December 31. Contestants may submit as many games as they like, and all games submitted will be available to download and play from the official site.

Prizes include the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models. The top three game designers will win a free trip to the 2012 Game Developers Contest.

So if you’re young and Japanese, get those games comin’! The official 9leap site can be found at http://9leap.net/.

Even if you can’t read Japanese, please click on some of the games and give them a try. I think that you’ll agree with me that they’re highly addictive.

A year ago, pundits were declaring that 2010 would be the year of the tablet. They foresaw an army of razzle-dazzle-kaboom touch screen toys sweeping through the stuffy landscape of notebook and desktop computing. We all know how well those prophecies turned out…100% accurate, provided you consider the iPad the only tablet in the game.

Fortunately, 2011 looks to be a bit more varied…and UEI is proud to position itself on the cutting edge of the tablet revolution.

This summer NEC will release the first dual screen tablet for Android, based on an idea from UEI. Our latest Zeptopad release, Zeptopad FOLIO, is one of the tablet’s central apps. Please enjoy the video above for a preview of what it has to offer.

Here is a transcript of Ryo Shimizu’s remarks about FOLIO at SXSW:

“Let’s imagine computers of the future.

This week saw the advent of the iPad 2.The first iPad was a tremendous hit, and we can surely expect the same from its follow—up. Needless to say, the iPad 2 is extremely impressive. It combines astonishing CPU and GPU power. Countless users were dazzled by its fluid touch screen capabilities. Less than a year after it went on sale, the iPad has become a common site in the arms of passerby. This is an astonishing achievement.

So, what’s next?

As the iPad and its imitators get thinner and lighter, faster and more efficient, what will come after them? Today I’d like to consider the issue.

The iPad seems destined to grow thinner and thinner. We can eventually expect an iPad virtually indistinguishable from paper. However, if it becomes too thin it will be difficult to use, so we can expect it to grow thin while maintaining a degree of sturdiness.

What happens when it reaches this ideal point of thinness? The existing iPad is too big for a lady’s handbag.

We can expect developing technology to solve the thickness issue. What about the tablet’s straight, flat shape?

Here’s my idea: FOLIO.

It folds just like books and memo pads, with two screens. Here’s the prototype for this concept. You can use it freely, maintaining your privacy even in a public place.

This at last fulfills the promise of an electric bookshelf. Countless numbers of books have been printed on paper. The Amazon Kindle offers some 1,000,000 titles. But paper book titles extend well into the tens of millions. Not all of these were made to be read one page at a time. For instance, comics and textbooks lose much of their meaning when presented in a single page format.

A two-screened tablet would preserve these works in a new form. I can envision a near future in which the Oxford English Dictionary defines “Paper” as synonymous with “Touch Screen.”

Let’s toss a stone at the giant.

The weakest point of the otherwise splendid iPad is its keyboard. When presented sideways it covers half the screen, and in vertical mode it is extremely difficult to use. The very first iPad commercials featured users lounging on couches, propping iPads up on their legs. Can anyone really relax like that?

A two-screen tablet could be used just like a PC, with its lower half functioning as a keyboard. This eliminates an uncomfortable posture and any fears of back pain.

If I were to name one other defect in the nearly impeccable iPad, it would be its lack of refinement. In pointing this out I feel a bit like the small child calling out the naked Emperor for his “new clothes.” But I suspect that you will all agree with me.

I’m referring to its inability to use a pen.

Is a stylus a bad thing? Is the finger still man’s first and best tool? Jobs has made these assertions. And I don’t disagree. But, how about it, really? Isn’t writing with one’s finger something like playing in a sandbox? If you go to Elementary School, the first thing you learn is the use of a pen. People have used pens for thousands of years, refining our history with them. When you make a purchase at the Apple Store, what’s the one uncomfortable moment? That’s right: signing. The transactions are made on iPhones and require you to sign with your finger.

Can one lead a complete lifestyle without a pen? Of course not.

That’s why school begins with the alphabet, followed by exercises in handwriting. Will people lose this storied and ancient ability all for the sake of one high-tech tablet? The thought is an arrogant one to say the least. This is why we think the next generation’s “paper” will require a pen to go with it. When using a pen at the computer, what sticks out most?

Verification of characters.

I feel that time spent waiting for confirmation of handwritten letters is time wasted. And no matter how much accuracy improves, I doubt it will be sufficient. This is because handwriting possesses its own unique flavor, capturing the emotions and thoughts of the writer.

Leonardo DaVinci excelled at mirror writing, which Richard Feynman invented his own unique symbols based on trigonometric functions.

This is true creativity. Creativity on a keyboard is an oxymoron.

Allow me to interject an idea. Why do we have to identify characters in the first place? For one, simply because they’re beautiful. If that’s all you’re after, use the keyboard that God gave you. The other is a far more important trademark feature: the ability to search. However, if search is your priority, there generally isn’t a need to perfectly recognize every character. I’m referring to recognizing writing not as letters but as an image, and searching for it as such. This means that even DaVinci’s mirror writing or Sumerian cuneiforms would be recognized in a search. And if you absolutely must have a clean hand written copy, that feature is included as well. But most people would use FOLIO just like a paper note, recognizing writing as images to save and search for. This recognition engine is quite efficient, allowing not merely reading and clean copies of characters but other helpful features.

For instance, drawing circles and squares.

Even if scrawled out roughly, the tablet makes them smooth and accurate. Computers are marvelous.

Of course Apple realized this same demo feature in 1993 with Newton. But here’s the difference. If you wish to draw a mind map, you can drag out a fresh note from inside this circle. 
It doesn’t merely recognize this shape as a circle, but gives it a whole new meaning. And not just that.Let’s draw a few parallel and horizontal lines. It recognizes this as a spreadsheet.Input numbers into the cells, and circle a few cells with your pen, and the total appears.It’s just like Excel’s SUM function, but without a keyboard. Clever listeners will realize that these few features solve most daily needs. And we’re patenting this design.

Still, paper notes are splendid creations.Consider this Moleskine. This Italian notepad was used by Chatwin, Picasso, Van Gogh, Hemingway, and even Indiana Jones’ father Henry Jones, Sr. This is truly the tool of great authors. Paper notepads are splendid not just because of their ease of use and portability. You can paste pictures and maps in the pages, add memos, and insert your own creativity. This FOLIO prototype features these same features.21st century creators can open a virtual map and cut and paste a selection of their choice. They can then write notes and pictures on the map to their liking. Web pages are the same. Cut a selection from a web page with the cutter. Then paste it to a note and use it freely.

This FOLIO is just a prototype, but we have plans to introduce them experimentally into the market this spring. Currently, NEC has provided the hardware, while we supplied the software and concept. Although we are still far from perfection, we believe that the ultimate shape of tablets lies in two screens. We are proud to dually present this concept with NEC. Both the hardware and software will be subject to further refinement.We hope to eventually widen our offerings to S, M, and L form factors, as well as full sized computerized blackboards and desks.

Thank you for listening.”

Stay tuned for more updates about Zeptopad FOLIO!

Update: New Photos from Help Save Japan at SXSW

The Help Save Japan at SXSW fundraiser proved an astounding success, with attendees generously sharing both monetary donations and emotional support. All money raised will be given to the Red Cross to help rebuild Japan.

Here’s a quick peak at some of the lighter moments from the donation table.

Hidemi and Kang-san in their traditional (?) Japanese garb. For mysterious reasons, these two lovely ladies earned far more donations than the men did:

Japan Nite tour producer Audrey Kimura, whose tireless efforts made the fundraiser a reality:

Dr. Serkan Toto of TechCrunch, who generously donated about $200 in cash despite a sudden ear infection:

Mr. Iguchi and Mr. Shimizu, showing their Japanese pride:

Our sincere thanks to everyone who contributed. We will be forever grateful to the love and support you have shown to Japan.

Ganbare!

Original Post:

Greetings, readers. Today the UEI team finds itself in Austin, TX, preparing to exhibit at the SXSW Trade Show. In light of the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, however, we are refocusing our efforts to help encourage donations for quake victims.

Here is a translation of CEO Ryo Shimizu’s blog post. The original can be found here: http://wise9.jp/2011/03/13/wise9-uei-tonchidot-sxsw/

wise9, UEI, and Tonchidot Team Up to Gather Quake Relief Donations from Overseas

How is everyone?

As I wrote yesterday, I am currently at America’s largest music/film/interactive entertainment event, South by Southwest (SXSW).

This event saw the debut of such recent hit services as Twitter and Foursquare, and is a focal point for internet services around the world.

I had planned to use this event as an opportunity to introduce a two-screened Android tablet application, FOLIO, jointly developed with NEC.

However, as you all know Japan has just experienced an earthquake of unprecedented proportions.

At the request of famed Sekai Camera creator and Tonchidot Corporation president Mr. Iguchi (@iguchiJP), SXSW’s Japanese guest gathered for a morning meeting.

With the full cooperation of the SXSW management, Tonchidot and UEI agreed to solicit relief donations at their booths, with a special booth and TV also prepared separately in SXSW to encourage contributions on a large scale.

That evening a party had been in the works to promote Tonchidot’s latest service, domo, and Mr. Iguchi proposed that we use it as an opportunity to launch our donation activities.

“Alright, let’s go buy a printer and start making posters and stickers!”

We wanted to show words of support from the American community…but in Japanese…so we enlisted UEI’s first American employee Eric to write the above message on iShodo.

Talented artist Hidemi then turned this into a poster.

Two hours passed.

We stopped by an electronics store, picked up CANNON’s smallest available printer, the iP100, and made some posters. And stickers.

We posted this message outside the event site.

Help Save Japan Text “RedCross” to 90999

This got considerable attention.

Many people texted the Red Cross on the spot.

To our surprise, there were other Americans at SXSW soliciting relief donations.

We decided to join forces.

Here’s a pic of the event site.

The plan was to sell Tonchidot’s latest service, but we projected recorded broadcasts from NHK and a slideshow of quake illustrations I made on the wall instead. The mood was dampened a bit.

Mr. Iguchi got up on stage to encourage charity donations.

Say what you want about him when he released Sekai Camera, but he was really terrific here. Not many people can do what he did under such circumstances.

We prepared a donation box for people who felt more comfortably giving directly than over the phone.

Mr. Iguchi and I plan to donate the collected money to the Red Cross.

However, we did not receive many donations simply by setting the box there.

Mr. Iguchi also enthusiastically encouraged listeners.

I have to do something as well.

Make no mistake: in truth, I have had a rather bad image of charities and donations. I like the idea of giving but not donations collected in the street.

I planned right from the start to deliver my work money, earned while soliciting donations, to charity.

That was of course my plan. To give the money I earned and saved in Japan.

But that by itself is worth little.

My loved ones are in peril, while I can do nothing in this faraway country, I realized. Soliciting donations is all that I can do.

I considered various plans, like giving our proceeds from AppStore apps and our GREE game “Elysium in the Sky,” but either one would require a 30% handling fee, and it would be better for GREE to use its own donation system.

That’s why, however feeble my efforts may be, no matter how strange or dubious I may look, I saw no choice but to encourage donations from Americans and those who escaped harm.

Happily, the event is drawing many people to Austin.

We can surely do something.

No matter how actively Americans donate, to them this is just another disaster in a foreign country.

To protect our countrymen, we have a duty to send a message.

Even a single dollar will suffice. All I can do is gather together money at the moment.

We also made a Facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/helpsavejapanatsxsw

In just a few hours it got 100 fans.

But right before our eyes, people ignored Mr. Iguchi, drinking and enjoying themselves. This is to be expected. They came to enjoy themselves. They had no plans to get involved in a charity event.

“Let’s do it,” I said.

No matter how clumsily, let’s solicit some donations.

And then everywhere, everywhere around the room, we went around telling people “Help Japan.”

People contributed enthusiastically.

Suddenly I came across my old Austin friend, Conrad.

“Ryo, you alright?”

“Conrad!”

“I saw your Facebook page. I’m encouraging my friends to donate too. You can donate by texting this?”

“Yes.”

“Hey, and here’s a donation box. I gave 20 dollars.”

“Thank you so much, Conrad!”

Other people also encouraged our contributions.

“I’m gonna take a photo of this donation box and post it to Twitter. Maybe some other people will pitch in.”

“Great idea. I’ll post it on Facebook.”

Everyone photographed the box.

Though perhaps not the best environment to begin with, people got into the movement.

This is the beginning of something.

Tomorrow we will get a special donation space at SXSW.

I hinted at this earlier, but I didn’t think much of Mr. Iguchi when Sekai Camera came out.

When the iPhone came out, a world as pictured in the concept video was impossible.

I openly mocked the concept.

I had only studied AR for a year at University of Tokyo Graduate School, and was proud of learning about Japanese Virtual and Augmented Reality from the expert.

In my pride I considered Sekai Camera to be amateurish and out of date.

In truth, the same concept had been presented 10 years previously by Sharp and Sony CSL.

I had avoided Mr. Iguchi, and even declined appeared together at Nikkei BP event.

Sekai Camera has vastly improved. But I still harbored ill feelings. Mr. Iguchi, for his part, did not seem to reciprocate them at all.

In the face of this crisis Mr. Iguchi has shown himself to be a magnificent man who I humble show my respect to.

In the face of Japan’s greatest crisis, we must momentarily forget our jobs and hobbies, opinions and prejudices, and join our brothers to restore our great country.

I humbly thank him for his support and love.

Here at UEI, we pride ourselves on unleashing fresh ideas upon an unsuspecting world.

Saying of which, ever hear of a little website called “Twitter?”

Nah, I’m not about to claim that we invented it. Bogus bragging rights belong to politicians. What we can claim, however, is supporting the release of the newest and best tool for managing Twitter’s endless stream of data: Chirpstory.com. Chirpstory is the international edition of Togetter, Japan’s most popular Tweet curation service. With two million users at last count, Togetter provides an easy-to-use suite of tools to drag and drop Tweets into lists that can then be published online. Now Togetter creator Toshiaki Yoshida is ready to take on the world with Chirpstory.

Why a Tweet curation service, you ask? Because, quite simply, it’s well-nigh impossible to mine all the valuable information pouring out of Twitter at any given moment. Chirpstory allows a user to cut through the noise of retweets and spam, picking out and saving noteworthy or interesting Tweets in a chronological or thematic narrative. In essence, it gives Tweets a second life…not as spur-of-the-moment, 140-character thoughts, but single pieces of a larger story.

And the best part is that since the site is free, and tremendously intuitive to use, that narrative is whatever you want it to be. Whether you’re organizing Tweets from a conference, political event, or humorous online trend, Chirpstory is the ideal way to give “what’s happening?” a complete answer.

But why are you reading my New Coke sales pitch, when you could give the real elixir a try? Chirpstory is just a proverbial click away.

If you have suggestions for improving the service, feel free to send a Tweet to @chirpstory.

“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal.”

Okay, modesty check…perhaps we have yet to reach sufficient fortune and glory to compare ourselves to Ron Burgundy. All the same, we’re feeling pretty flushed with pride after our recent appearance on CrunchGear.com. Please head on over and give the story, with a detailed peek into our new offices, a look.

A big thanks to good friend Dr. Serkan Toto for the feature.

Oh…and an apology to any users reading this post through the link from Dr. Toto’s article. Does that qualify as deja va? Introspection? Or perhaps just good, old-fashioned discombobulation?

Brand Spankin’ New Digs!

November 16, 2010

“This will be a day long remembered…it has seen the end of Hongo, it will soon see the end of irate overcrowding.”

Well, something like that. What I’m trying to get at is that our offices moved yesterday, and Shimizu-san quoted George Lucas to mark the occasion.

For five long years UEI had its berth in the Hongo Ohara Building, which lay a hop, skip, and a jump (actually, probably only a hop) away from the University of Tokyo. This lent our comings and goings a distinctly academic vibe. The strict programmer dress code of jeans, flip-flops, and a t-shirt melded seamlessly with the garb of undergraduate and Ph. D. students. Engineers wined and dined mere table lengths away from esteemed scholars at the local Indian cuisineries. And on more than one occasion revelry at nearby bars had nothing to do with the cavorting of student whipper-snappers.

‘Twas a good five years. But it was also five years that saw UEI expand to the breaking point, from occupying one floor of the Ohara building to three, and reaching a point where there weren’t enough desks to go around. So, to cut to the punchline: we up and moved.

The new hideout is in the MS Building in the Yushima district of Tokyo. It’s actually only about ten minutes away from the old digs…just down the road, up one hill and down another, and straight on ’til…Akihabara, actually. Many of you probably know the name Akihabara from any number of manga, anime, or tomes of Japanese Studies, but for those of you who don’t, it’s considered the capital of Japanese media and contents culture. Historically a haven for dealers of electronic goods, it’s still the go-to place for any number of computer or electric wares. More importantly, however, it reigns as the supreme capital of anime and manga fandom, with innumerable comic and hobby stores. Slightly more dubiously, it’s also the birthplace of maid cafes. Welcome home, Master…indeed.

In any event, the new office positions us a mere five minutes away from geek heaven. No offense to academia, but this somehow seems more fitting for a mobile entertainment company.

Now comes the part where I need to clarify myself. UEI didn’t merely “move” our offices; we took the occasion to completely redesign them. To wit, here’s what a guest sees upon emerging from the elevator:

Open the pod bay doors, Hal. By the way, what this photo doesn’t show is the full-length mirror at one end of the entrance hall. And it only hints at the mirror running the length of the ceiling.

Yup. A ceiling mirror. If that doesn’t lend the eerie illusion of wandering into a 3-D Alien prequel, then check out this shot of one of our three new meeting rooms:

What’s so spooky about a white meeting room, you ask? Well, for one thing, as Shimizu-san pointed out, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star conference chamber. For another, it talks. Step inside, close the door, steep yourself in the dearth of windows and plastic plants, and listen. The room fills your ears with an uncanny whispering sound that would shame the island ghouls on Lost. And remember, we’ve got three of these puppies to welcome guests in.

Time to clarify again. Given the large number of congratulatory flower bouquets currently gracing the entrance hall, it would seem that our own offices are spooking us more than they are our guests.

Fortunately, the work space proper is slightly less ethereal. Here’s a look at the state of things in the hours immediately prior to the Great Monday Unboxing:

The biggest change from the old hangout is, of course, that we’re now all on one floor. This means increased morale, a sense of unity, and other warm ‘n’ fuzzy stuff. It also means that paper airplane dogfights have become painfully tempting.

But wait, there’s more! Balancing out the Death Star entrance hall, we also now sport a child’s play room. Well, it’s actually a meeting/brainstorming space…the action figures, television, manga, X-box, munchies, and cushions are just there for inspiration. Really!

And last but not least, we’ve got a pair of bedrooms. Yup…bedrooms. The irregular working hours of most of our staff necessitate the occasional snore session, and now they can do see in spectacular college-dorm style fashion. You see? We haven’t completely escaped from academia.

A personal aside: you spy that overhang in the top right corner of the picture? TALL FOLK BEWARE. My ill-fated encounter with it led to the inaugural bloodletting at UEI’s new offices, and sent me on a merry visit to the University of Tokyo hospital emergency room. Fear not: both the office and my skull emerged unspoiled.

Whispering walls, killer corners, comfy cushions, wide-open spaces, and maid cafes…all in all, I think it’s safe to say that UEI has come home.

By the way, here are the gentlemen who designed the new clubhouse. If you’re in Tokyo and need a job done, do check them out. The VIS folks did a superlative job for UEI, and we’re confident that they’ve got a plethora of other great ideas up their long, black sleeves.

Terratag comes to Tokyo!

November 10, 2010

Hullo friends!

At the end of October UEI had the privilege of hosting a very special guest. Paul Nicholson, renowned designer of Terratag fame, joined us for a week of Tokyo shenanigans. Paul’s no stranger to Japan; in addition to his wide range of mecha and ukiyoe influenced t-shirt designs, you may recognize his “Laughing Man” logo from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It only takes a few minutes of talking to Paul to realize that he knows his anime and manga. I mean, he really knows his stuff…even the most seasoned Japanese fans proved hard-pressed to beat him in trivia matches.

That having been said, a designer like Paul never stops hungering for new inspiration…and he proved this in spades as we explored Tokyo together in his quest for new material. Here are a few shots he snapped on our rambles.

Keep your eyes peeled, folks…these and similar images may be influencing some loopy new designs…

Of course, what’s a trip from London to Tokyo without a little play? Especially when the trip happens to coincide with Halloween? Unfortunately for Paul, he didn’t manage to escape unscathed from our desire for after-hours cosplay mischief.

Moe moe kyun!

Now, we’ll see if that ends up in one of Paul’s next designs…

Back in business…back in, um, Zep…

Lucky folks downloading the latest version of ZeptoPad will find some surprises awaiting them in its digital depths. We’ve gone back and expanded its import and export features to make your creations accessible far beyond the bounds of the iPad. After all, your idea’s not worth an elephant’s hiney if you can’t share it, right?

When creating a document, you can now import elements from the file-storing programs Dropbox and Evernote, as well as iTunes:

When you’ve completed your creation you can upload it to these same programs:

We’ve expanded the import and export options for entire folders as well:

We’re quite proud to work with Evernote and Dropbox, both in the business of making nifty tools…which in turn make ours just a little bit zeppier.

The shadow of a new post enshrouds the blog in darkness…

Loyal readers may have been speculating over what mischief we’ve been up to in Zeppie land since my last post. Did dark forces liberate the MM9 monsters from their shackles in fiction, unleashing them to devour the Ubiquitous Entertainment staff? Did a space-time distortion from our efforts to integrate wormhole technology into ZeptoPad (oops…proprietary information slip) adhere our brains together in a sickeningly literal interpretation of the term “mind map?” Did we all mutate into fish under duress from typhoons, thereby solving the national tuna shortage?

No, dear readers…the truth is far more sinister. We’ve been busy slicing and dicing away on new goodies to make you giggle in delight, and scratch your chinny-chin in fascination. Our latest iPad app, MCS Elements, should do both in spades.

The app displays and analyzes data collected in the ASCII Media Works study MCS 2010, the first large-scale investigation of internet and contents consumption in Japan. Simply put, it shows what Japanese people are watching, reading, and playing. For instance:

On the main menu above, punch the little green fellow three rows down from the top, second from the right. He’s labelled “Otaku,” an alternately humorous and embarrassing term usually translated as “nerd.” Here it receives an official definition worthy of Brittanica: “a person with obsessive interests, who participates in subcultural events, and is often characterized as a ‘nerd.'” Sounds fair. Selecting this long-haired, green-sweatered lad reveals the following:

Or, if you’re in horizontal mode:

Either way, within seconds an “ah-ha”-provoking assortment of data will be at your fingertips. Our green-clad hero is 39.3% likely to buy more than one comic a month, and those comics are 21.3% likely to be Fullmetal Alchemist and 18.4% likely to be One Piece. If he’s watching a film, it’s 14.3% likely to be Evangelion: 2.o You Can (Not) Advance and 11.7% likely to be Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Tap on any of these categories to dig in deeper, with longer lists and more figures.

Hmm. So just who is this mysterious green-clad genre fan? Tap your finger on the wheel in the top right, and the following unspools before you:

We now discover that our hero is only 34.1% likely to actually be a “hero”…33.6% says that “he” might actually be a “she.” Oops…sorry, ladies. Either way, odds are that he or she is childless, unmarried, and doesn’t date. That’s what those fat blue and pink slices of the pie above reflect.

And that’s just scratching the shiny, touch-screen surface of the goodies you can dig up in this app. You can investigate the habits of everyone from students to baby boomers, software developers to housewives…a total of 26,296 graphs are possible. Needless to say, it’s a lovely little tool for marketing, statistical analysis, or just good old-fashioned giggles. The ¥10,000 ($84.99) price tag at the iTunes store should be but a small price to pay for all the fun.

The app unfortunately comes only in Japanese, and the data set is limited to Japan. But hey…why not afford a little special treatment for the world’s third (sigh) largest economy? For more information, and a demonstrative video, check out the official site!