A small branch of telecoms giant NTT, NTT Neomeit , will commence field-testing the ' U-Consento ' service in May with a view to offering it to NTT's broadband customers for ¥500 (£2.10) a month from September.
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The hardware involved is relative simple - a Wi-Fi router at home receives user orders and relays them to an infrared transmitter that can, for example, turn on a video recorder to catch the evening's sumo roundup they otherwise wouldn't get home in time for. Non-IR devices, like lights or fans, need an adapter in their power sockets to switch them on and off at the wall.
When the hardware's simple, it's a safe bet that the software isn't, which is true in this case. NTT Neomeit has created an interface that users access on a phone's web browser, from which they can choose from a list of options or can monitor a log of exactly what has happened already.
That latter option is also slightly Orwellian, as the company suggests it could be used to monitor housebound elderly parents to check on their TV viewing habits, among other things. The winning combination of two subjects close to the Japanese heart - old people and television - is sure to guarantee success for U-Consento.