Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's New Pussycat?

Yuki Nagato as a nekomimi

The traditional media does a terrible job of covering stories about science and technology. Fortunately, the internet picks up the slack. Sites like PopSci, Discovery News, or the New Scientist provide better coverage than the trad med ever did. Likewise, hardcore tech and gadgeteer stories can be found at Wired or Gizmodo. So, being a bit of a "sci-geek", I regularly make the rounds of this Internet "neighborhood".

For the last week or so, I've been seeing a story about mind-controlled "cat-ear" head accessories popping up at a variety of these sites. They're produced by Neurowear, a Japanese company, and are called "necomimi". At first, I paid no attention. I'm not really big on manga or anime, and I'm definitely not into "furry" cosplay. But, as more and more articles came to my attention, I started to think about it.

Alright, I get the whole cosplay angle. Everyone has things that give them thrills. I'm not one to determine what constitutes "having bad fun". If "cat ears" do it for you, then enjoy.

Apparently Catwoman's ears "do it" for Batman

However, under the whole cosplay angle, there was something that caught my attention. The cat-ears reveal mental activity. They are a form of nonverbal expression. That's kind of cool. In the current tech, it's a crude binary tell; ears up indicates mental stimulation, while ears down signifies mental rest. But this is a stepping-stone tech. Future forms of "expression accessories" may have greater nuances. I can get behind that.

But you won't find me wearing cat ears. ;-)

Here's an article from MTV Style that discusses the product in a humorous manner.

Here's an article from PopSci.

Here's Neurowear's website. There isn't much to see there, but it seemed rude to not include a link in an article that was discussing their product.

And here's a Wikipedia article on Moe Anthropomorphism, a subset of which is the aforementioned "cat girls" or nekomimi.


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