Vodafone's heavenly ambitions in Japan

Ian Rowley

Vodafone might be struggling to keep pace with domestic rivals in Japan but there's plenty of evidence that the UK-based carrier is looking to the stars. Yesterday in Tokyo, Vodafone's Japan chief Bill Morrow unveiled a new service which enables customers to recognise constellations by pointing their phone skywards (see the screen shot above). Developed jointly with AstroArts, the service is called Seiza o Sagaso (Let's look for constellations) and, says Vodafone, is a "full-fledged guide to the stars application." The novel service takes advantage of a new motion control sensor which apart from aiding star-spottig is also the world's smallest 6-axis sensor on a single semiconductor chip.
The first phone to include the star-gazing function will be the 904SH
from Sharp which goes on sale at the of April in Japan. For those uninterested in knowing their bears from their orions, the flagship handset also includes a VGA LCD screen with four times the resolution of current handsets and face recognition security software. That's unlikely to help Vodafone close the gap on local players NTT DoCoMo and AU, which have some pretty hot handsets themselves, but no one could accuse Morrow and his team of product developers lacking imagination.

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