SDCC12: NECOMIMI Launch Party
Electronic Ears Emote Fun...
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I experienced many memorable moments during this year's San Diego Comic-Con, but the occasion that stands head and shoulders - or in this case, ears - above the rest was the Necomimi launch party. Necomimi, which appropriately translates as "Cat" and "Ears" in Japanese, is a new brainwave monitoring headset developed by NeuroSky. A leader in "Brain-Computer Interface" (BCI) technologies for consumer product application, some of NeuroSky's most notable product contributions include the ThinkGear chip for use in Mattel's Mindflex and the Star Wars Force Trainer by Uncle Milton. Grounded in proven medical EEG (electroencephalograph) technology, Necomimi is a fascinating electronic device. However, its primary application isn't for the betterment of science or medicine. Necomimi is a prescription for fun.
On July 12th, honored press and media were invited to the Andaz Hotel Rooftop Lounge for the Necomimi U.S. launch party. Already a big buzz in Japan since it's viral video introduction last year, Necomimi is poised to take America by storm... or at least those with an inclination for the strange and wonderful. Looking over San Diego's gorgeous Gaslamp Quarter, guests were encouraged to discover Necomimi firsthand by donning a pair of the moving headsets. With delicious gourmet cupcakes to snack on (with ears, of course) and lovely cocktail waitresses providing friendly service, there was no shortage of neural stimulation for Necomimi to tap.
So how does Necomimi work? First you must correctly place the device on your head. An elastic strap holds Necomimi snug to your head, a comfortable fit, though a tad awkward at first. Next a wire is clipped to you left ear lobe and the headset's forehead sensor must be positioned just so to read your brain waves. It all sounds like the stuff of make-believe science fiction, a thought that entered my mind more than once. Once on, a quick button press on the side activates the device. By utilizing NeuroSky's BCI technology, Necomimi proceeds in reading your mental state and translating it into ear movements to share with those around you. When something grabs your attention, the ears shoot straight up! When you're relaxed, the ears droop down. Since there were no mirrors to admire my emotions by, I had to rely solely on those around me to find out what my ears were doing. However, I could hear them moving, the little servos in Necomimi whirring away. All indications - from the party guests to the sound of my ears in action - showed to me that I was a pretty alert critter that night. Demonstration questions from the Necomimi team, however, took the device in other directions. Asked if I had ever evaded taxes and my ears responded in kind. The Necomimi team knows how to read these devices well, and the signs weren't good for me. I have slightly fudged taxes in the past (who hasn't?)... and it showed. Creepy.
As me and my reporter friend Scott Rubin spent more time wearing Necomimi, we too soon began to understand how to "read" them. We also grew more comfortable with the device, Necomimi acting as an engaging piece of interactive hardware with other people around. And that's the one downside to Necomimi - you really need others with the headset on to fully appreciate it. Wearing these by yourself - while cool for cosplay - just doesn't convey the full fun of Necomimi. Oh, and speaking of cosplay, those looking for a more personalized Necomimi identity will soon have their wish. A company called TeknoFur (Teknofur.com) is already in the process of developing alternative ear designs (some prototypes pictured above). From real animal designs like bear and fox, to even more extravagant concepts like the blue "party" ears. To put them on, simple slide off the pair of white ears that come with the device and pop them on. Necomimi's ears are made to be easily removed for cleaning and replacement.
Are you ready for the Necomimi experience? Necomimi is available now through select authorized resellers priced at $99.95. Visit Necomimi.com to find out more. CLICK HERE for more photos from the San Diego Necomimi Launch Party.
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 07-19-2012 at 12:53 PM.