If you've ever been to Tokyo or any other large Japanese city, you'll have noticed the huge variety of billboards plastering the urban landscape, often featuring the month's most popular idol. Now researchers at Keio University are working on a system that will allow passers-by to interact with said posters via an ultrasound sensor setup. The sensor will detect the motion of people in front of it, and display appropriate pictures in response — "appropriate" may not be the right word for everyone, though, as the main use case demonstrated by the researchers so far is the ability to "kiss" the idol on screen. After you've expressed your affection for the poster and moved your head away, the girl blushes with embarrassment, for example.
By sensing the distance between the user and the display, this photo of a person reacts when kissed. This system is currently under development by a research group at Keio University and they are also considering how to utilize this system in a commercial context.
"I'm a big fan of pop idols, and I have posters of them in my room. It bugged me that the posters didn't move at all. We built this system because we thought, if a poster could move to match people's movements, that would be interactive and fun."
"This system is very simple. There's an ultrasound sensor here, to detect how far away your head is. As you approach the sensor, the picture changes. When you get closer, the picture becomes a kissing face, and when you move away, it becomes a blushing face."
"The current system only produces visual changes, but we could also include the scent of shampoo from the person's hair, or a lemon-flavored film on the lips, or a speaker that whispers "I love you." People who've tried this system advised us to do those things, so we think there's still plenty to be done. We've learned a lot from talking to users."
From now on, the researchers plan to develop an iPad application. For this, they're considering other sensing methods, such as using image recognition via the camera, or using a light sensor that reacts to the shadows created when the user approaches.
"We think we could get pop idols to actually pose for this, and sell it as an application, or it could be used in digital signage. I think people would be really attracted by a face that gives a kiss as they walk past."
Pucker up, Arama.
Sources: The Verge & Diginfo Tv