Tag Archives: gadgets

Google Glass Review: Functions and Flaws

There has been a lot of hype over one of Google’s latest gadgets – Google Glass. The multi-billion dollar company never fails to create huge excitement around their products, which is evident in this case by their impressive video trailer “How It Feels [through Glass]”

It’s easy to get really excited about Google Glass after watching something like this. The song alone almost makes you want to go ski-diving and start living a fuller life.

However, since Google Glass became available to more ordinary folk (at a price tag of $1500), several videos have since surfaced that highlight the inherent flaws in this technology. A Google Glass review by Engadget mentions some of these shortfalls.

Google Glass Review: Functions & Flaws

Google Glass Review - Sergey Brin (image: news.cnet.com)First and foremost, there are MAJOR concerns about privacy. Google Glass wearers could be filming you while in the bathroom or recording your daily movements. Stalking would be taken to a whole new level.

It is also not mentioned that Google Glass requires a wireless connection to your smartphone (which comes at an additional cost). Users have also reported that battery-life is really only a few hours and that the device needs to be charged often via a micro USB.

Functionality also seems to be quite limited with this early edition of Google Glass. You can’t browse webpages or make use of any apps at this point. What Google Glass does allow you to do is check weather forecasts, take pictures and videos (and share these), do basic searches, read and reply to emails or messages, hang out on Google+, get directions, tell you the time and respond to voice prompts. I’m sure there are a few more functions of Google Glass, but at this point, it is essentially a low-end smartphone for your face.

There’s no doubt that Google Glass will evolve into something more impressive over time, but it is also most likely that credit for this will be due to non-Google developers and rather users of the technology – a cheap and effective method of outsourcing. But at least Google has planted the seeds for a possible future behind a screen.

Article originally posted on cDs Global Blog

 

Embracing Change

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THE world is changing pretty fast – exponentially in many cases, particularly in the technology and online industries. It’s natural for anyone, regardless of age or creed, to feel overwhelmed by the library­ of choice. Laptops, iPads, notebooks, Kindles, iPhones, netbooks, iPods and gaming consoles are all on offer under different brands and with varying specifications. This is failing to mention the infinite range of smartphones.

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Top 10 Gadgets of 2010

TECH: Top gadgets and tech treats from 2010

IT’S clear that we are firmly in the age of digital technologies. No doubt each year will bring new and exciting gadgets to the table that will make today’s ones seem so last year, but it’s good to take stock of where we are today and how far we’ve come.

With a quest to develop all-in-one gadgets, the market has been saturated with digital devices that can all do pretty much the same thing. It seems to be more about brand name and style than anything else. What follows is a list of some of the top gadgets of 2010.

Top 10 Gadgets: 1. The Apple iPad

Apple iPadAlthough tablet PCs are not new to the world, Apple tends to take things a few strides further and did so with the release of the Apple iPad. Capable of behaving like a laptop, media player, Internet browser, e-reader, game station, camera, photo album and more, the iPad really is an all-on-one digital device.

Top 10 Gadgets: 2. Apple iPhone 4G

Apple iPhone 4GThe iPhone was hailed as a revolutionary mobile that not only looked good, but could do more than you could ever ask of a phone. It is certainly one device that will be continuously upgraded and enhanced thanks to its eager fan base. The iPhone 4G boasts the sharpest, most vibrant, highest-resolution screen on the cellular market today.

Top 10 Gadgets: 3. The Garmin Nüvi 1390T GPS

Garmin nüvi 1390TGPS devices may be so last year, but what the latest models can do almost makes one gawk at satellite technology. This particular GPS not only comes with lifetime map updates, but features an enhanced user interface, ecoRoute (which suggests fuel-efficient routes), pedestrian navigation and the new public transit mode, which allows you to navigate using buses, tramway, metro­ and suburban rail systems.

Top 10 Gadgets: 4. Logitech Revue with Google TV

Logitech Revue With Google TVAlthough not quite mainstream yet, at least not in South Africa, Logitech Revue­ essentially allows you to connect your TV and satellite cable with a high speed Internet connection via Ethernet or Wi-Fi to bring you Google TV. Switch between regular broadcasts and online content (specifically Google TV) at will. Use a keyboard to search for your favourite shows or surf the Internet on your TV; or use your iPhone 4 as a TV remote.

Top 10 Gadgets: 5. Samsung LED 9000 series

Samsung LED 9000 series3DTV has boomed this year with the release of several films in 3D as well as newer 3DTVs to enjoy watching them at home. I always speak highly of Samsung screens and this particular 3DTV has got to be one of the slickest on the market. As thin as a number two pencil, this TV will do 3D right out of the box.

Top 10 Gadgets: 6. Panasonic 3D camcorder

Panasonic 3D CamcorderWith the explosion of 3D films and new 3DTVs this year, it won’t take long before consumers will want to start producing their own videos in 3D. Panasonic has been hailed as the first to bring 3D video to the consumer level with this camcorder, although it will set you back about R150 000.

Top 10 Gadgets: 7. The Nook Colour E-Reader

Nook Color E-ReaderE-Readers have certainly come into fashion this year, and although one can use an iPad or iPhone as an e-reader, the Nook Colour features a 17 cm touch screen and comes in full colour — perfect for children’s books and magazines, as well as enhanced books and newspapers. The Nook can also be used to surf the Internet, listen to music and play games. It’s an e-reader the whole family can enjoy.

Top 10 Gadgets: 8. Fourth Generation Apple Ipod Touch

Apple iPod touchIpods are not just about listening to music­ anymore. Video chatting, filming and sharing HD video, playing games and listening to music are all doable with the forth, and not last, Apple Ipod Touch.

Top 10 Gadgets: 9. Bluetooth-enabled, iPhone-compatible Meat Thermometer

iGrillA new gadget for the kitchen, this iGrill meat thermometer will connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth so that you can check the status of whatever meat you’re cooking from any room in the house. With a range of 60 metres and capable of registering up to 200°C, you’ll able to keep an eye on dinner while taking a bath.

Top 10 Gadgets: 10. Kodak PlaySport

Kodak PlaySportThe PlaySport is a durable camera for the outdoors type. It’s drop-resistant, and waterproof and can be dragged around the world without worry. Strap it to your body before scaling a mountain or skiing down a slope and capture all your adventures in high quality video­.

Sources:
www.logitech.com
www.gizmodo.com
www.digitaltrends.com
www.top100gadgets.com
and Time Magazine’s Top 10 Gadgets

Unusual Christmas gift ideas

CHRISTMAS IDEAS: Gifts that will certainly make a statement

JONATHAN VAN STADEN

WHY not spoil yourself or someone who you know who has everything with an electronic gadget that will be sure to make a statement this Christmas. The statement might be that you have lost your mind, but it just may make life a little more interesting. There are plenty of devices out there that have been born out of an active imagination. Here is a sampling of some that you will want to have and others you may prefer to give away. Enjoy.

Want Remote

Want Remote

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Wand Remote

Do you want things to instantly change with the wave of your hand? Now you can with the wand remote. It will learn commands from your existing remotes and map them to particular hand motions. Flick the wand from side to side to change channels or twist it to turn up the volume. A beam of light will even shoot out as you become the conductor of your electronic symphony from the comfort of your couch.

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Popcorn Machine

You just know how much this would make you feel as if you are at the movies or back at the fun fair. No more boring microwave bags. Here you can have salted, hot buttered popcorn until your lips start to wrinkle!

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Guitar T-shirt

Guitar t-shirtPlaying air guitar is so last year. Put this shirt on and plug it into the clip on speaker/amp and start playing your favourite music. All the major chords are recorded from a real electric guitar and the magnetic pick allows you to strum like you would a normal guitar. The amp has a tone knob that lets you adjust the sound just like a real guitar. In case you were wondering the volume knob goes up to 11.

Outdoor subwooferCHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Outdoor Sub-woofer

Now you can enjoy a full bass sound outdoors. It can support up to 90 kg, so you can use it as a plant stand or a side table. Its durable terracotta finish is paintable to match your outdoor décor. Your plants will be amazed to actually hear the sound of a tuba.

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Dog Speakers

Talking of woofers, how about something for the the dog lover. Well, a pair headless dogs sitting at your side may be too weird for you to live with. But on the positive side they do come fully house trained.

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Self Stirring Mug

Self stirring mugObviously you are going to be so busy waving your remote around and tucking into your popcorn that you cannot be expected to stop and stir your favourite hot drink you have just prepared. You don’t have to. With this mug all you need is one hand to press the button on the handle and all the ingredients will be stirred to perfection.

The Apple of my iPad


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APPLE IPAD: Hands-on, touch technology at its best

DIGITAL entertainment technology has a nasty habit of being released onto the market too soon — usually before it can be fully tested, optimised, fine-tuned and sold at a fair price. The Apple iPad, on the other hand, couldn’t have come soon enough, and is the perfect balance between a smartphone — such as the iPhone — and a netbook or MacBook. It is also one gadget being marketed at a very reasonable price.

Apple iPad iBook storeWe South Africans, however, may have to wait a little longer to get our eager hands on iPads and experience them for ourselves. Nonetheless, several bloggers and tech experts have been raving about the iPad since it’s unveiling on January 28; but not all of it has been positive.

Techsperts are arguing that the biggest downfall of the iPad is that it is trying to be the best at everything and failing to be the best at anything. It’s great if you already own a laptop and an iPhone, they say, but perhaps not so great as a stand-alone device.

I would argue differently, and propose that the iPad is perfect for people who own neither an iPhone nor a netbook — or any Apple product for that matter. For starters, you would only be paying for one gadget (it is the cheapest of the three), which is able to do what the netbook and iPhone can … even if not as well.

What is an Apple iPad?
The iPad is a tablet computer. It is a flat, magazine-sized device with a multi-touch screen that allows users to surf the web, watch video content, send emails and read online media and ebooks (electronic books), among other things.

The real technology lies in the high-resolution, multi-touch screen, which is essentially what the iPad is. It requires no input devices such as a keyboard and mouse; everything is performed with the touch or sweep of a finger. A virtual on-screen keyboard appears when wanting to type something such as an email.

The iPad really resembles a large iPhone, but does not have built-in phone capabilities. However, the iPad is not marketed as a phone and it is still possible to web chat and communicate using social media websites and services.

Size and specs
The iPad is two centimetres thin and weighs just 0,7 kg. It features an accelerometre, compass, speaker, microphone, headphone jack, dock connector, 802.11n WiFi networking, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 16/32/64GB of storage, and Apple’s brand new, super-fast A4 1GHz processor.

That’s one tight package with a lot of talent. Some iPad models will also feature 3G connectivity to cellphone networks. Battery life is said to be 10 hours during active use and one month during standby.

What does the iPad do?
Apple CEO Steve Jobs punted the iPad’s capabilities as an electronic reader of books, newspapers and magazines. In this way, it operates in a similar manner to the Amazon Kindle; one is able to browse and download ebooks onto the device to be read on the screen. This saw the birth of the iBooks application, which users can use to find, purchase, and download e-books from the iBook Store using their iPads.

Users can also download podcasts and vidcasts or buy music, TV shows, movies and applications from the built-in iTunes Store and App Store. All applications that currently work on the iPhone will run in an iPhone-sized window or in a maximized view on the iPad. Apple’s latest iPad model — the SDK — will allow developers to further customise applications for the larger screen size.

iPad Apps
The iPad comes with several built-in applications, such as Safari, Mail, iCal, Address Book, Google Maps, YouTube, Photos, and Music (to name a few). All these applications (which already existed in the iPhone) have been redesigned and optimised for the large multi-touch iPad screen. Data can also be synchronised with a Mac or PC via USB cable.

iPad features and shortfalls
Jobs showed off various features of the iPad during the unveiling ceremony, which include browsing the web, checking email, working with spreadsheets and charts, playing videogames, listening to music and watching video. That’s a lot to ask for in just one device, yet it still lacks a couple of important capabilities.

Apple iPad - NY TimesSome critics predicted the iPad would become the best-selling electronics device of 2010, while others pointed to its shortfalls, complaining that it has no built-in camera, cannot multi-task, can’t be used as a phone and doesn’t support Adobe Flash.

The lack of Flash support is possibly the major shortfall, as many websites today incorporate Flash for rich media content. Several news websites make use of Flash video and banners, which simply cannot be viewed or accessed using an iPad.

iPad Pros
The iPhone has been hailed as a revolutionary device. Since its release, a huge library of thousands of applications has been developed and made available to iPhone users – for nominal fees, of course.

It is not incorrect to say that the iPhone acted as a sort of testing ground for new applications, as it was the only device that could make first and proper use of them. It is also not incorrect to state that many of the applications were borderline useless and often left iPhone users who had purchased the applications feeling a little ripped off.

The iPad, on the other hand, had the advantage of determining which iPhone applications were most successful and popular, and the best ones have been incorporated, with considerable upgrades to them.

What I would argue is the strongest selling point of the iPad from a consumer perspective is that it is simple and easy to use. Microsoft Surface showed how quickly all types of people can get to grips with hi-end technology by using natural hand gestures to operate it.

The iPad has no right or wrong way of being held — whatever is on the screen will rotate and orientate itself to how you hold it. Clicking on links, playing video content, resizing and zooming in on images, using Google Maps, playing games … is all done intuitively, using your fingers. It is hands-on technology at its best.

iPad Cons

“The iPad isn’t the transformational device so many Apple enthusiasts were hoping for. It won’t turn all the content industries upside down, it won’t be your primary computing device and it’s not even a bigger, better iPhone.” — Mashable.

Without Flash support the iPad is unfortunately not the best web browser, which is what Apple is claiming it to be. However, it is still highly capable and can do a lot more than just web-browsing. It is not meant to be used as your primary computing device and it will not replace your cellphone.

Battery life, however, may be an issue. There seems to be a major focus on making gadgets as small and lightweight as physically possible these days, which can hamper functionality. The Apple iPad is just two centimetres thick. Battery life is said to be 10 hours. I would much prefer a thicker device with a larger battery if that means I can use it for longer.

Yet the iPad’s ease-of-use appeal and links to Apple’s online music, book and applications stores will make it an entertainment gadget that appeals to a broader group of people than previous attempts to market tablet computers.

iPad Prices & Release Dates
Apple has said that the basic iPad would be available worldwide in late March at a starting price of $499 (roughly R4 000). A 32GB version will cost $599 and a 64GB version will cost $699.

All iPads can access the Internet using WiFi, but Apple will also be selling versions of the iPad that connect to high-speed 3G wireless networks. These will cost an additional $130 (roughly R1 000). It is important to note that the 3G versions will also require an Internet data plan.

If sales speak any truth
Steve Jobs said that due to iPods, iPhones, and MacBooks, Apple is the largest mobile devices business in the world today – generating more revenue than Sony, Samsung & Nokia. Add the iPad to that list and Apple seems unstoppable.

PS: I’m hoping to get my paws on an Apple iPad when they are released and write a proper, full review. Until then, watch this space …

Related post: Microsoft Surface – touch technology

Blogger’s Greatest Hits

POST PROMO: Blogger’s Greatest Hits attempt to make a comeback

Each post I’ve ever written is like a digital child of mine – each given due attention and updated when necessary. However, as a parent, I naturally grow concerned over how some of my digital offspring are more popular than others.

They each have their own unique talents and personalities, and although popularity is a fickle thing, I can’t help feel that it is my fault as a parent that some of my children get more attention than others. Perhaps they weren’t labeled properly at birth, or their dad simply lacked the know-how of how to get them ahead in life at the time.

I have therefore made it my parental duty to promote some talented children of mine that still have much to offer and are yearning for your attention. Below are a few of my personal favourites from each category – my greatest hits trying to make a comeback. I’m certain that you will find yourself willing to adopt some of the following:

From Quite Interesting:

“Staring blankly at my keyboard the other day (as one does) I began pondering over the arrangement of the keys. “What’s up with that?” I heard the comedian within me say. I set forth on a cyber-galactic journey to discovery why my keyboard’s layout looks the way it does…” (Read more)

Santa Claus“So just who is that fat, old jolly guy in the red suit that parades around shopping malls at Christmas time – entertaining kids and scaring adults with his “ho ho hos”? It’s usually someone’s dad – the one (in any community of close friends) with the biggest beer boep…” (Read more)

“Do you ever use sayings such as “saved by the bell” or hear your grandmother squawk something like, “Heavens, it raining cats and dogs outside!” A lot of people still do yet have no idea where such phrases originate from. I got a little history lesson the other day which explained the dark truth behind some of these popular figures of speech…” (Read more)

From Web 2.0:

“Digital Blasphemy is by far one of the best places on the web to find incredible pc wallpapers. Ryan Bliss has made a career of creating digital desktop backgrounds that are simply amazing. He is also quite the generous type and offers a few of his digital artworks for free. I have collected several of these over the years and wanted to share my top 10 with anyone who appreciates such talent…”
(Read more)

Photofunia“There are some great digital photography websites out there that allow you to do some wondrous things with your own (possibly dull) collection of pics. Such sites also make you look really smart when your family and friends don’t know about them and ask, “how in the name of Luke Skywalker did you make your facebook profile pic like that!?”
(Read more)

“If you feel that you missed out on an opportunity to be pasted in your fellow matriculants’ yearbooks and be remembered forever, you can now do it online. With a little imagination and creativity, you could digitally create an entire yearbook of all your former classmates, whether you matriculated in the ’50s or the ’90s…” (Read more)

From Happy Friday:

“The video “Where the Hell is Matt?” has seen over 21 million views to date, so you’re likely to have seen it before, but if you haven’t, you should give it a watch. It takes you to a place of magic and joy and wonder – a place where all the bad in the world is forgotten for 4mins 29secs. It is one of the most viewed viral videos of its time and one of my top dancing videos…” (Read more)

chip-n-dale“There are no cartoons better than the hand-crafted animations of the 80s, which make today’s cartoons look rather crappy by comparison. The following make me slip into a nostalgic state and give me the urge to run around the garden naked climbing trees again. What? That’s not weird. It’s called my “inner-child” – eveyone has it… don’t they?” (Read more)

“Here you’ll find a collection of humorous and memorable South African Facebook statuses I’ve come across over the past two weeks to illustrate my point that South Africans are pretty, funny people…” (Read more)

From Online tips & tricks:

“The video-web is an exciting place to be involved in these days, particularly because it is constantly evolving and simply brimming with potential. If you have untapped creative juices, or any original video-related ideas, there is nothing stopping you from making a contribution to the growing videosphere…” (Read more)

blogging 101“If the idea of blogging excites you, there is nothing preventing you from starting one today. There are several ways to go about this, but in the spirit of keeping things simple, there are two blogging sites I would recommend…”
(Read more)

“… here’s a much more controversial-friendly, and very easy way to learn the SA anthem if you don’t know it already. You’ll see that it’s as easy as ABC” (Read more)

From Gadgets & tech:

“Specifically since the introduction of Windows XP to Japan, more and more consumers have been taking their laptops and electronic devices to Shinto priests to be blessed against system crashes and technical failures…” (Read more)

“Our traffic nightmares may soon come to an end thanks to an invention known as the Shweeb. And this is not just some fancy new swear word, but the world’s first human-powered monorail” (Read more)

“I wrote a hand-written letter the other day and found that my hand-writing looked like barbed wire. I realised that it had been a good while since I had used any hand-writing skills due to my increasing reliance on typing everything. It seems obvious to me that the archaic technology of hand-writing is being slowly killed by digital technologies. Yet just when the patriotic hand-writers thought things couldn’t get worse, society unleashed something called “digital paper” or iPaper…” (Read more)

Reviews:

“The gaming chair came in attachable parts with a set of tools, a spider diagram, some Chinese instructions, and a note of encouragement. I half expected to find a small key, some coded message, a strange map and an enchan­ted ring” (Read more)

Aibo“I’ve been thinking of getting a puppy; one that’s potty-trained. Or perhaps a streetwise cat that can take care of itself. The thought that I could never find the time to raise a pup made me consider robot pets. Several of these can learn skills and tricks, recognise faces, voices, and colour; but they won’t pee on your carpet…” (Read more)

“Twisp is not a real cigarette, but a personal and portable vapouriser, that uses micro-electronics and a lithium polymer cell to evaporate nicotine in ‘smoke’ from a replaceable cartridge. The vapour does not smell nor does it contain tar, carcinogens or smoke particulate found in first and second- hand cigarette smoke, but it feels, tastes and looks just like the real thing…” (Read more)

Gaming & virtual reality

“It has been said that Wannado has redefined child entertainment by simulating a dream world where children are encouraged to take on and experience one or several adult professions. It features 60 Real-play venues and over 120 career possibilities – ranging from archaeologists, doctors, attorneys and TV hosts to fashion models, pizza makers, DJs and clowns…” (Read more) 

VisionDome 5“As computer-processing power increases and even more realistic graphics are developed, the simulated environments produced by virtual reality systems will become even more believable than some already are. At the cutting edge of vitual reality is the VisionDome…” (Read more)

“Known as the godfather of modern videogame systems, the Atari 2600 (originally called the Atari VCS) helped spawn a multi-billion dollar gaming industry. Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 was the first successful console to use game cartridges and its influence can still be felt today in the Xbox, PlayStation, and GameCube…”
(Read more)

Cellphones & cellular technology:

“The Samsung Jet has opened up a whole new world of mobile web browsing with its high performance Dolfin web browser and revolutionary 3D cubic interface, allowing super-fast surfing. The device also supports the option of multi-window browsing – allowing one to surf up to five pages simultaneously…” (Read more)

iphone art“Some of the latest hype arriving in the wake of the new iPhone 3G S is an Apple application for the device called Brushes, which allows users to do more than just doodle on their iPhones. The images are “painted” freehand, using fingers and thumbs…” (Read more)

“The Health Concept Phone (pictured) is equipped with eNose technology, which effectively allows it to electronically “smell” what you eat and keep track of your food intake. It is able to ‘recognise’ food (and other things) by its unique chemical signature. Recommended for people who have a habit of eating with their eyes closed. Similar phones have the ability to emit a whiff of your significant other’s scent every time he or she phones…” (Read more)

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Weird Wired World

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Gadget blessings: Shinto priests protect electronics from bad mojo

I HAVE always had a fascination for religions other than the one that I was force-fed at school. I am not an unruly atheist, but simply feel that one should understand or at least lightly explore the views of religions other than your own before deciding what to believe.

To totally refute the beliefs of other religious groups is, as history will tell, sadly often the cause of futile conflict. It always seems that people who want to share their religious views with you never want you to share yours with them …

ShintoismAnyhoo, I have recently developed an interest in the religions of the Far East, specifically Japan’s Shinto religion. A core belief of Shinto is that all objects — living or not — have spiritual properties, and can thus be blessed. With the increasing introduction of electronics to Japan, there has been an interesting fusing of technology with the practices of Shinto.

Specifically since the introduction of Windows XP to Japan, more and more consumers have been taking their laptops and electronic devices to Shinto priests to be blessed against system crashes and technical failures.

A writer for Wired Magazine took his cellphone to a Shinto Priest to witness this phenomenon first-hand and provides a first-hand account of the whole experience …

Blessed are the Geek

'My cellphone sits in a lacquer tray waiting to be blessed by a Shinto priest. Late last year, I visited the ancient Kanda shrine, located in the heart of Tokyo’s consumer electronics district. The shrine does boffo business offering charms and ceremonial purifications that protect cellphones and laptops and even blogs and ISP services from bad mojo.'

'My cellphone sits in a lacquer tray waiting to be blessed by a Shinto priest. Late last year, I visited the ancient Kanda shrine, located in the heart of Tokyo’s consumer electronics district. The shrine does boffo business offering charms and ceremonial purifications that protect cellphones and laptops and even blogs and ISP services from bad mojo.'

Brian Ashcraft

Boom! … Boom! … My chest reverberates with the thumping of a huge wooden drum as two robed holy men shuffle across tatami mats. They kneel in a vermilion-coloured alcove, while an assistant announces that the ceremony has commenced.

The priests begin bowing and chanting rhythmically. I’ve been given a white “robe of cleansing” to wear. Actually, it’s more like a smock. I’m not sure what I should be doing. I bow a couple of times.

I’ve come to the 1 270-year-old Kanda Shrine in Tokyo to purify and bless something very near and dear to me: my cellphone. I’ve had hellish luck with cellphones over the past year. I left one on a ride at Universal Studios Japan. Its successor suddenly (and mysteriously) died. The next one accompanied my pants into the washing machine, and its replacement went awol in less than a week. Divine intervention was needed, and pronto.

Japan’s Shinto religion holds that nearly every object in the world, animate or inanimate, has a spiritual essence. Therefore, anything can be blessed, from a newborn child to an automobile. Priests at the Kanda Shrine, which overlooks Akihabara — Tokyo’s Mecca for consumer electronics — offer prayers for the well-being of gadgets.

Kanda found its calling in metaphysical IT work seven years ago, when Microsoft XP went on sale in Japan. The shrine created talismans to prevent system crashes, and they were snapped up by the throngs of nerds who prowl Akihabara for the latest gizmos and porn comics.

Soon requests were pouring in for priests to perform purification rites on laptops, cellphones, even web-portals. Today Kanda offers microchip-shaped good-luck charms for ¥800 (about R64) and private ceremonies for ¥5 000 (about R400).

Back in the great hall, an older priest waves a giant wand — essentially a mop of white parchment streamers — over his counterpart. Thus cleansed, the younger priest rises and carries my phone on a tray to the main altar. He begins a low-pitched chant, invoking the shrine’s deities to “watch over and protect Brian Ashcraft’s cellular phone”.

As the sound of plucked koto strings echoes through the hall, the assistant jingles gold bells over my head. I’m told to approach the altar and am given a tree branch — an offering to the shrine’s deities. A priest painstakingly instructs me to turn the branch 180° —no, no, clockwise— and place it on the altar. I am then told to bow deeply twice —that’s good — and clap twice.

Most Japanese people would probably stumble through this intricate ceremony as clumsily as I do, but the tenets of Shinto are deeply ingrained in their consciousness. It occurs to me that this must affect how they view their little electronic helpmates. Perhaps gadgets really do have souls. Maybe my problem isn’t bad luck, maybe I simply haven’t been giving my phones the respect they deserve. I bow again, and the ceremony concludes.

Near the great hall’s exit, I am presented with a wooden plaque certifying that my cell has been purified. Over a cup of sake, senior priest Katsuji Takahashi chuckles as he tells me, “I’ve lost my phone twice, but both times it turned up.”

Seven months later, my blessed cellphone is still with me.

We really do live in a weird wired world.

www.wired.com