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Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011
Keep cool with a cold beverage and a strategically placed fan
By RICK MARTIN
Now that we're into August, many of us here in Japan are looking for new ways to beat the summer heat. Some people have purchased "green curtain" kits, growing walls of goya vines to cool their homes or offices. Others are opting for "Super Cool Biz" attire in an effort to stay comfortable in the office.
But as you might expect in Japan, there's no shortage of fun gadgets dedicated to helping you endure hot summer days. Here are just a couple of examples that will work particularly well for anyone battling rising temperatures in the workplace.
Japanese gadget giant Thanko has long been known for creating things that are perhaps more entertaining than they are practical. That reputation continues this summer as the novelty device-maker brings us a wonderful USB-powered fan clip that attaches to — wait for it — your necktie.
Thanko's necktie pin cooler is a minuscule fan that looks like it might have been ripped from someone's laptop. The clever idea here, of course, is the implementation of the necktie clip to keep the cooling fan hidden from view.
Weighing in at a mere 28 grams, Thanko's necktie pin cooler can be powered by either your computer's USB port or a battery pack. If you opt for the latter, you can drop the included battery pack in your shirt pocket if you need to leave the office and head outside into the sun.
The fan is intended to draw hot air out from your shirt, thus cooling you off in the process. It certainly appears to be a far better implementation than Thanko's previous necktie fan, which placed the device just above the tie's knot where everyone could see it.
The necktie pin cooler costs ¥2,480 (about $31), and is available for purchase via Thanko's online store. If you're the forward-thinking type and would like to keep warm in winter, consider Thanko's USB cat-mousepad hand-warmer featured here earlier this year.
Speaking of interesting USB devices, Green House, another local company known to produce peculiar peripherals, has released a USB cup warmer/cooler device, a gadget that should serve you well whether it's the middle of August or January.
The Green House USB cup warmer and cooler is available in four colors — white, black, green, and pink — and comes with a one-meter USB cable so you can set it a safe distance away from your PC to avoid messy keyboard spills.
For most of the year, this device will probably be your ticket to perpetually hot cups of coffee on your desk. But if the summer heat is making your work day difficult then you can flip the switch to activate the "cooler" setting. An LED indicator light indicates which mode is in use — a red light means warm and a yellow light means cold.
Currently it comes with a price tag of ¥2,780 (about $35). This is the second iteration of Green House's cup warmer and cooler, the first model of which was released back in 2008.
And if you're looking for a beverage in need of cooling, what better than a nice cold beer? (Not in the office, of course!) One of Takara Tomy's hottest items this summer is Beer Hour, a device that converts a regular can of beer into a one-touch dispenser tap. Just hold down on the lever and Beer Hour uses a high-speed stirring mechanism to aerate your beer (powered by a single AAA battery), topping it off with the right amount of head.
The handle can accommodate both 350ml and 500ml cans and is selling for about ¥1,900 ($24).
While we certainly encourage you to save electricity as much as you can this summer, you may as well sit back with your perfect pint, prop it on your USB cooler, and switch your necktie fan to max. It's summertime in Japan!