"Therapeutic ringtones" are a genre of melodies that promise to ease a range of day-to-day gripes, from chronic insomnia to a rotten hangover. This fad has caught on in Japan.
Developed by Matsumi Suzuki, the head of the Japan Ringing Tone Laboratory, an eight-year-old subsidiary of the Japan Acoustic Laboratory, the tones are a hit with housewives as well as teenagers.
AdvertisementA spokesman for Index, the giant Japanese mobile phone content provider that sells Suzuki's ringtones, explained that while there is a shortage of actual experimentation, "the number of downloads suggests the ringtones must be working to a certain extent".
The company's other innovations include an iPhone application that translates your dog's bark; the "Bowlingual" automatic canine interpreter draws on an database of woofs from dozens of species.
The first therapeutic tone, a high-energy rhythm, was supposed to provide a sudden burst of impetus to sluggardly housewives.
The tone that is said to improve skin mixes a burst of electro-Schubert with woodland noises such as birdsong and streams.
"I suppose it might subconsciously make you think of washing your face, and that is good for the skin. At least, it would certainly send you towards the bathroom," Times Online quoted Ayaka Wakabayashi, a housewife who tried the tone, as saying.
She and her friend Sendo were marginally more impressed by the sleep-inducing and sleep-preventing tones, suspiciously akin to a lullaby and a dance track.
They concluded that the tone with most practical use was the one that scares away crows.
Suzuki's latest ringtone has been timed to coincide with the Japanese hay fever season.
The Ohana Sukkiri Melody emits a series of sounds at different frequencies "so that people can choose the sound that resonates most to their sinus and causes pollen lodged there to fall from the nasal cavity".
Index admitted that it had not conducted any research on how great a pollen deluge would be induced by the ringtone but said that it was "generally understood" that resonance would help hayfever sufferers if they brought the phone close to their noses.