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Touchable Love Plus And How Konami Made It Happen

Andriasang reported that Konami had introduced what might be the most groundbreaking innovation in video game history during the recent Digital Content Expo 2010: interactive Love Plus.

Crossposted from TK-Nation. TK-Nation's a South-East Asian gaming site that plays home to news about quality underdogs from the gaming world, indie cosplay and video game collectibles. 

Today, Andriasang reported that Konami had introduced what might be the most groundbreaking innovation in video game history during the recent Digital Content Expo 2010. Amidst the many exhibits that Konami features at their booth, none were as impressive as their demonstration of Love Plus, Konami's digital girlfriend simulation. 

In collaboration with Tokyo University's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology and Keio University's Graduate School of Media Design, Konami showed visitors exactly what it would be like if players were capable of touching the characters in a game.

Using a technology called the "RePro 3D", exhibitors were able to create a touchable 3D demo using the girls from Love Plus. The demo began with the girls 'flying' out of a DS unit. People were then able to touch one of the girls, causing the other two to retreat back to the DS. Each of the girls were capable of responding to touch, turning to look whenever samplers made contact with them.

Visitors were required to wrap a sensor around their pointer finger in order to receive feedback from the demo unit. According to the reporter from 4gamer, contact with the characters was more akin to the sensation of a bite as opposed to that of petting a small hamster.

Andriasang stated that it was unclear as to whether or not Konami plans on using this unusual technology in their future games. 

All right. 

Now that the official report is out of the way, let's get to the more interesting bits. 

I'd be the first to say that I hate Love Plus. I mean, in many ways, it is sheer brilliance and I really can't blame Konami for capitalizing on the loneliness of thousands of gamers out there. My personal vendetta against the game stems from the fact that I know of at least one attractive male in real life that would resort to the companionship of this game as opposed to, you know, going out and meeting people.


Nonetheless, this isn't really what I wanted to talk about. After hearing of what technology is now capable of, I knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep until I found out more. With Google being as reliable as always, I soon learned what was going on behind the scenes at Konami's demo.

It appears that RePro3D is one of the many projects that Tachi Lab,  a laboratory specializing in Virtual Reality and Telexistance, is engaged in. Further investigation revealed that 4gamer might have oversimplified the technology behind this. 

For those of you who aren't interested in knowing how these things work, I'd suggest you stop reading here. I'm about to get rather tediously technical. Those of you with a fascination for the technical, feel free to continue.

Based on Tachi Lab's website revealed, it looks like two different projects had been combined during the Digital Content Expo 2010. The first, of course, was the RePro3D project

According to the website, RePro3D  is a display system built to accomodate interactive 3D applications. This is achieved by displaying multiple images from a projector array on a retro-reflective (a surface that reflects light back onto its source with minimum scattering of light) screen. As a result, viewers looking through the screen via a half mirror would be able to see a 3D image superimposed on the real scene without glasses.

RePro3D also features sensor functions that recognizes user input. Obviously, this is what allows interactive features as the manipulation of 3D objects. The illusion of smooth movement is accomplished via the usage of a high-density array of projection lenses in a matrix onto a high-luminance LCD.

The entirety of the device is integrated with an LCD, a half mirror, a retro-reflectoras well as an infrared camera to sense user input. The video below will probably provide a better explanation as to what is involved.

While that explained the girls and their ability to respond to tactile simulation, the RePro3D project is obviously incapable of delivering a bite. Fortunately, the other project mostly likely responsible for providing tactile responses can also be found on the site. 

Called the 'Tactile Communication System', l this technology apparently involves the usage of a sensor called the Gelforce which measures the distribution of both the magnitude and the direction of force. Tactile display is composed of electrodes fastened onto the skin. Through the application of an electrical current, sensory nerve fibers inside the skin are activated. 

So, in short, all those people promising 3D displays without the traditional blue and red glasses? They were probably telling the truth. As for whether or not we'll be able to finally make the Holodeck a reality, it looks like the shock treatment issued by the 'Tactile Communication System' still has a long way to go.

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