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Sony uses Wi-Fi to pinpoint noodle shops

Nearby ramen restaurants are presented as blips on a steaming bowl of noodles

Sony's a strange company - on the one hand it appears every inch the industry giant striving to return to its former glory. Yet, on the other, it produces really bizarre products like its latest piece of software that uses Wi-Fi to locate noodle restaurants.

Naturally, we're wholly behind innovation when it's as odd as X-Ramen Radar, a free PC application (no Macs on Sony) that relies on the PetaMap and PlaceEngine technologies we've looked at several times in the past. In a nutshell, they use the strength of any available Wi-Fi signals to work out a precise location, rather like satnav without the GPS.

Show me the ramen

X-Ramen Radar takes that location information and cross-references it with a database of restaurants that specialise in ramen noodles. If it finds anything within a radius of 3km it gives directions and can send hungry hackers on their way by car, bike or on foot. Should they need more information on each shop, it's a mere mouse click away.

While something as unusual as X-Ramen Radar deserves a hearty slap on the back just for trying, it does seem a bit pointless when pretty much every street in Japan is home to several ramen shops anyway. Whatever next - a Starbucks locator?