Japanese mobile carrier AU has developed a device that allows users to easily collect music and video content from CDs, video cameras, TV's and the internet and get them all in their mobile phones.
The AU Box, on show at the Ceatec exhibition in Japan, looks like a set-top box with a slot for CDs and DVDs on the front and ports behind where broadband internet, TV and the user's mobile phone can be connected.
At its simplest level it can be used to transfer music to the phone. For example, to digitise music that's in a CD format, just slot in the CD and the music is downloaded into the AU Box, converted and uploaded to a smartphone. The whole process is quite speedy - an hour's worth of music can be ripped and transferred in just ten minutes. With a broadband connection users can also connect to AU's music download service and grab songs over the speedier broadband line rather than through their mobiles.
Apart from gathering a user's media, the AU Box can also take the place of a computer for some applications.
For example, users can surf the internet and watch videos on demand from AU's Lismo video store using their televisions. Instead of a mouse, navigation is done through a remote that is similar to a phone's keypad, which means internet access through the box is still patterned to that of a mobile phone. This function is believed to benefit Japanese youngsters, most of whom do not own computers but have mobiles and televisions.
Additionally at home, users can watch cable TV through the service and a subscription to the Hikari One IPTV service of KDDI, the Japanese telecom carrier that owns AU.