Teddy bears can hardly be associated with high-end technology, but Japan – the country where almost anything has to do with the T-word – thinks otherwise. The proof is a teddy bear phone concept that was presented during the 2008 Good Design Expo.
Dubbed Kuma Phone, the "teddy bear device" is made by Willcom
, the fourth largest Japanese mobile operator and the country's sole provider of PHS (Personal Handy-phone System) services.
The Kuma Phone looks like any usual mid-size teddy bear. But inside it, Willcom has somehow packed a handset that can make and receive calls – provided that you insert a SIM card into it. According to CScout Japan, the unusual phone can save up to four numbers that can be speed-dialed via the bear's paws. Furthermore, the Kuma has custom ringtones and it even vibrates. Incoming calls can be answered by pressing the bear's tail, while doing the same during a call will end it.
Of course, the phone-related features of this Japanese teddy bear are far too limited when compared with the ones we can find in an ordinary mobile handset, but this will surely not stop the mobile operator from selling the weird device.
Willcom has also presented, at the 2008 Good Design Expo, a "candy phone" called Nico.Marble – which, together with the bearphone, would make any collector of weird handsets proud.
For the moment, there is no word on when the teddy bear phone will be commercially available, but Japan will obviously be the first country to get it, for a retail price of around 500 USD (about 342 Euros). While waiting to see users talking at their teddy bears on the street, we must say that, if this new concept turns out to be successful, Willcom can even extend the range of "stuffed handsets" and offer mobile phones packed into small sheep, hippos, giraffes or any other animal that might look cute.