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Healing vibrations - Therapeutic ringtones from Japan

Milon_Gupta

Milon Gupta
Eurescom
gupta@eurescom.eu

For many people in Europe a ringtone is an expression of their individual taste. Even more people regard other people’s ringtones as annoying, if they have to listen to them in public. None of them would think that ringtones could be good for your health – except in Japan. There you can now download ringtones that are said to have therapeutic effects. 

Ringtones against hayfever
If you go to the Sokuho Music Search (http://sms.39e.jp), the mobile ringtone website of Index Corporation, you will find a collection of ringtones designed to cure chronic ailments, like, for example, hayfever. The "Hana Sukkiri Melody” collection promises to clear up your nostrils from nasty pollens. The website claims that the ringtone will resonate in your nose and remove all pollens. There are 27 variations of the ringtone with frequencies ranging from 420Hz to 1070Hz. These vibrations are supposed to shake out cherry blossom and cedar pollens from any nasal cavity. 

Asked for scientific evidence, Index Corporation conceded that they have not done any research on the ringtone’s effect and that the effectiveness may vary among users. "There is no guarantee that this has real health benefits," a company spokeswoman said. 

However, a spokesman of Index said it was "generally understood" that resonance would help hayfever sufferers if they brought the phone close to their noses. Now, if you happen to visit Japan in spring, don’t be surprised to see sniveling Japanese in parks and on the streets holding their ringing mobile phones close to their inflamed noses – instead of answering the call. 

Fortunately, not only people with allergies can benefit from therapeutic ringtones. If you suffer from insomnia, the "sleep-promoting ringtone" is for you. Or if you are in a more active mood, try the “make-your-date ringtone”. Should you want to beautify yourself before the date, the "make-your-skin-beautiful ringtone" is what you need. The skin cure is done via a mix of electronic Schubert music and woodland noises, such as birdsong and streams. In case you have a hangover after the date, there is also a ringtone for that. 

The inventor
All these therapeutic ringtones have been developed by the Japan Ringing Tone Laboratory (JRTL), led by Dr. Matsumi Suzuki. On his website (http://jrtl.org) he says that he studies acoustics and analyses voiceprints. Some people regard him as “one of the most famous acoustic scientists globally” (quote from www.hotdog.com – online pet store from Singapore). It is said that his sound analysis has been used to solve crime cases and recreate the trumpeting of the mammoth. In 2006, he even recreated the voice of Mona Lisa, based on an analysis of the famous painting. For Bowlingual, a computer-based dog-to-human language translation device, he was awarded the humorous Ig Nobel Prize for "promoting peace and harmony between the species". 

If this impressive scientific record does not suffice to dissipate any doubts about the seriousness underlying the research of the healing ringtones, the spokesman of Index offers proof which certainly compensates for the shortage of actual experimentation: "The number of downloads suggests the ringtones must be working to a certain extent," he said. In the age of user-driven innovation, this is certainly a remarkable argument. 

Attractive noises
Whatever the scientific proof is, the Japanese seem to like therapeutic ringtones. These mobile vibes help the Japanese in almost any situation. There are so-called pherotones with names like Testeroni or El Cuddlero that claim to make you irresistible to the opposite sex. There is also a breast-enlarging ringtone, which was successfully launched by a member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult; the ringtone is supposed to make women's breasts grow larger - just by listening. For the more career-focused, Samsung has launched a phone which generates alpha waves that are supposed to enhance memory and concentration. 

Open research issues
This is all very impressive, and it is really breathtaking to see the advances of mobile applications in Japan. However, there is one thing I cannot fully understand. If these tones have the effect they are said to have, then why only offer them as a ringtone? Even the most extreme mobile phone addict will sometimes pick up the call and use the phone to talk instead of just listening to the therapeutic or otherwise magic ringtone. Why not just create a nice sound file that you can listen to on an mp3-player whenever you need it? And what about the effects of the ringtone on innocent bystanders? Imagine what could happen if El Cuddlero sounds on your phone and someone you are not interested in gets attracted to you? These are only some of the questions which need to be further researched Dr. Suzuki and his team at JRTL. And maybe it is now time for Europe to wake up to the Japanese call and do some own research on therapeutic ringtones. 

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