We see a lot of prototype and concept devices here at Tech.co.uk but few are as obviously pointless as the Pixi, an add-on for mobile phones devised by Panasonic of Japan working with two British design companies.

The Panasonic Pixi, to give it its full name, is the brainchild of the company's chief mobile device designer, Madori Kuroda, in collaboration with the London-based designers Industrial Facility and Luckybite. Although it has all the hallmarks of a hoax product intended to garner press coverage it is, apparently, a genuine work in progress.

Handset hijack

As for what the Pixi does, the answer seems to be 'very little'. But we can tell you that it piggybacks on the current boom in social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook by making it easier to post photographs from phones.

The idea is that users stick their phones into the Pixi and it takes over control of the handset's camera (download the video here). After taking a shot of, for example, a drunken colleague at an after-hours party, it's a simple matter of pressing one of the large buttons on the Pixi to send the image to a personal diary, public humiliation gallery or as an email attachment.

The designers intend the device to be used with the popular Japanese SNS Mixi that we've looked at before. Although quite why anyone would use it instead of the normal buttons on their phone remains unclear. Incidentally, the comparisons Industrial Facility makes between Mixi and MySpace are wide of the mark - the site is considerably more like Facebook.