From Your Brain to Cat Ears
by Tim Moran
Sometimes, technology is used to invent things that are so right that we wonder how we ever got along without them. Even the Luddites amongst us would be hard pressed to live in a world without the Internet, smartphones, GPS, HDTV. Well, you get the picture. But other times, advanced tech is used to create a device so bizarre that, rather than wondering how we managed without it, we wonder how it was ever thought of in the first place.
Enter "necomimi," from Neurowear. This Japanese outfit has created what it is calling a "new communication tool" in the form of cat's ear. A bare-bones site looks like it has been hastily put up, on which the genesis of necomimi is explained in a rather poetic form:
"People think that our bodies have limitations, but just imagine if we had organs that don't exist, and could control that new body? We created new human organs that use a brainwave sensor. Necomimi is the new communication tool that augments the human bodies and abilities. This cat's ear shaped machine utilizes brainwaves and expresses your emotional state before you start talking."
Necomimi makes the wearer--especially the comely Japanese girl featured in the video--look not unlike a digital Playboy Bunny. What it is supposed to accomplish is somewhat unclear, although we get that when the ears are perked up you are, if not happy, at least "concentrating"; when they drop down you are "relaxed." The cool thing about them is that your brainwaves make them flip and flop--what's counter-intuitive is whether up or down is good. Or maybe "good" is not the point, maybe it's just a different brain state. I'm not sure. However, the necomimi prose poem does say that:
"If you are concentrating and relaxing at the same time, your new ears will rise and actively move."
Neurowear seems to believe that people will one day walk around in public wearing these bunny ears, thereby communicating with each other in an entirely new way.
"What will happen when people show their feelings even when they don't express them? Interesting? Ashamed? Scared? In the beginning, people may feel strange, however people quickly become accustomed to controlling their new ears with their brainwaves. Right now, Necomimi can become a part of your body."
The ears are not yet available. The site notes that they will be released by the end of the year and color and price have yet to be determined.
Good luck, Neurowear. You never know, for who would have thought but a few years ago that we would not look askance at someone walking around with a Bluetooth earpiece and talking into thin air. Well, I do look askance at such people, which I guess would mean that my necomimi ears would flip up ... or down ... or, nevermind. I'm just going to start wearing a coonskin hat.