Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Now you can kiss Hatsune Miku, all thanks to the Oculus Rift

No one's really sure what impact the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift will have on gaming industry - or society in general - but the general consensus is that it's going to be kind of a big deal.

And that's not just because Facebook spent $2 billion to acquire the VR firm earlier this year.

We've already seen how the Oculus can allow curious users to swap genders for a little while and - before the Rift - people were using augmented reality to go out on virtual dates with Hatsune Miku.

Now, by combining otaku ingenuity with the raw horsepower of the Rift, we've officially gone one step further.

We can now make out with Hatsune Miku using a customized headset.

On the outside, this set up's a bit of a hard sell.

Looking like a bizarre crossover between something you'd get strapped to your face at a dentist's office and a medieval torture device (is there really much of a difference?), the customized Rift headset uses actuators and a pair of gummies to mimic the feel and movement of Miku's apparently kissable lips.

And while the images in the screenshot don't do the visuals justice, users do see a fairly faithful depiction of Miku in front of them as they lean in for the smooch.  It's her post-kiss blush that's just a bit off.

While the practical and commercial applications for this technology are still a ways off, it's really not hard to imagine virtual "otaku kissing booths" popping up at conventions and anime shops around the world where fans can pay to plant a kiss on the lips of their favorite video game / anime characters for a modest fee.

From a cultural perspective, the implications of this technology are absolutely fascinating in the extreme - but I can't help but feel that we were already warned about this...

Incidentally, this might be a good time to pull your money out of the love pillow industry - should you have any invested there..