Archived: Virtual Dating App Fights Constipation

Japanese mobile users have long had all manner of health apps and functions on their phones. From pedometers to services tracking their sleeping patterns, diet, calories and more, the keitai has been a trusted and personal device for analyzing and counseling on wellness anxieties. It is natural to build up a personal relationship with your phone, and you end up inputting hygiene and personal care data and information that you would be too embarrassed to tell anyone else outside the medical profession.

It’s big business too; even in 2007 the health market generated 80 billion yen through mobile phone services, and it can only go up and up as the population ages and devices proliferate. With smartphones we’re also seeing a logical shift from services provided by the network (iMode et al), to lots of single, individual apps that the user picks and chooses.

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It is often said they’ve got an app for that but surely some things just aren’t possible? Take constipation. Hardly seems there could be much scope digitally. We all know there is medication available but perhaps only in Japan would someone come up with such an inventive way to promote pharmaceuticals through an interactive app.

Targeting young working women in their twenties and thirties, Yoru Suru (Do it at night!) is part virtual dating app, part personal care assistant. The free app is meant to help you remember to take anti-constipation drug Surulacs-S, made by SSP.

Three so-called “ikemen” (hot guys) talk to you and make sure you are taking a dose at the right time. You can choose which man you want — each has his own profile and personality — and then record when you, ahem, manage to relieve yourself. The app then acts as a health management tool, with your virtual boyfriend reminding you to take Surulacs-S at the set time. You can use Yoru Suru as an alarm clock too, and touching and stroking the ikemen character will elicit playful audio responses. Flirting with a constipation medicine marketing app? Yes, they’ve got an app for that.

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This is a very Japanese attitude towards wellness and it is reflected in the tongue-in-cheek tone of the health products, even — or perhaps more so — in digital versions. In the recent past we’ve seen similarly colorful and lighthearted apps, assisting consumers with their health problems, but in a way that is very approachable and helping to take away the potential shame.

For example, there was a whole online campaign getting men to talk about their baldness and directing them to clinics, fronted by a popular comedy duo. And there are also funny apps for if you’re a young, stressed student desperate to find a toilet. (As way of a simple contrast, here’s a rather dour and unappealing American app for people with digestive issues.)

I’m now eagerly waiting on an app for itchy groins?

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