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Japanese Toilet Makers Agree on Standardized Symbols

Japan’s high-tech toilets are luxurious for some and confounding for others. Tourists facing a language barrier are forced to decipher cryptic symbols just to use one, and icons that mean one thing on some models might mean something entirely different on another. In an effort to make the products more user-friendly, Japan’s Sanitary Equipment Industry Association has announced standardized symbols for all its toilets, Ars Technica UK reports.

The pictographs, revealed on January 17, represent eight common functions: large flush, small flush, lift lid, lift seat, stop, rear wash, front wash, and dry. According to the BBC, the organization—which includes the companies Toshiba, Panasonic, and Toto—hopes to foster "a toilet environment that anyone can use with peace of mind." The new standard will be implemented in April.

Example of a Japanese toilet control panel. Image credit: Maya-AnaïsYataghène via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A consistent toilet language across Japan is good news for foreigners, but the eight basic symbols are just a start. Deodorizers, white noise features, and seat warmers are a few of the more unconventional features tourists will encounter when they flood the nation for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. As of last year, the Japan National Tourism Organization’s target for the event was 40 million visitors.

[h/t Ars Technica UK]

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Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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Pop Culture
How to Perform the Star Wars Theme—On Calculators
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The iconic Star Wars theme has been recreated with glass harps, theremins, and even cat meows. Now, Laughing Squid reports that the team over at YouTube channel It’s a small world have created a version that can be played on calculators.

The channel’s math-related music videos feature covers of popular songs like Luis Fonsi’s "Despacito," Ed Sheeran’s "Shape of You," and the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, all of which are performed on two or more calculators. The Star Wars theme, though, is played across five devices, positioned together into a makeshift keyboard of sorts.

The video begins with a math-musician who transcribes number combinations into notes. Then, they break into an elaborate practice chord sequence on two, and then four, calculators. Once they’re all warmed up, they begin playing the epic opening song we all know and love, which you can hear for yourself in all its electronic glory below.

[h/t Laughing Squid]

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Somnox, Kickstarter
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technology
This Cuddly Robot Is Designed to Lull You to Sleep
Somnox, Kickstarter
Somnox, Kickstarter

For people seeking all the benefits of a human sleeping companion without the human part, there’s a new Kickstarter-backed product. As Mashable reports, Somnox, the self-proclaimed “world’s first sleep robot,” is designed to give you a more comfortable, energizing night’s rest.

The bean-shaped cushion is the perfect size and shape for cuddling as you drift to sleep. Beneath its soft exterior is hardware designed to get you to deep sleep faster. Somnox rises and falls to mimic the movements of human breathing. Lay with the pillow long enough and the designers claim your breath will naturally sync to its rhythm, thus prepping your body for sleep.

Somnox can also be set to play sounds and music. Some content, like guided mediation, lullabies, and gentle heart beats, come built-in, but you can also upload audio of your own. And you don’t need to worry about shutting it off: Once you've customized its breathing and audio behaviors through the app, the device does what it's programed to do and powers down automatically.

Having a robotic sleep aide will cost you: You need to pledge about $533 to the team’s Kickstarter to reserve one. Even with the steep price tag, the campaign surpassed its funding goal.

[h/t Mashable]

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