Some feline fun with Japanese hi-tech headgear

Mon May 16, 2011 12:23pm EDT
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By Chiaki Kawase

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - In Japan, they're all ears for the latest in hi-tech fashion. The stylish headgear, a set of white ears that move according to the wearer's thoughts and emotions, is called "Necomimi" -- "cat's ears" in Japanese.

With two brain-wave sensors, Necomimi can detect and interpret the emotional state of the wearer, expressing it through four distinct movements.

The eats shoot up with the wearer is nervous or focused, but flatten when the person is relaxed.

During a specific activity like a game or reading a book, in which the user may be relaxed and focused at the same time, the ears swirl around in a circular motion. When brain activity is low, they flap gently back and forth.

The science of neuro-control is being developed in labs all over the world as a way to help the disabled or victims of 'locked-in' syndrome, where a patient is awake but unable to move or communicate, but Necomimi's creators at a firm called Neuroscience wanted something for all to enjoy.

The cat theme required some tinkering, though.

"For example, when cats are frightened or want to scare away an enemy, they flatten their ears. But with Necomimi, flat ears mean a relaxed state of mind," said Kana Nakano at Neurowave, one of Necomimi's creators.

"We have changed the meaning to suit human perceptions. To humans, it's kind of cute when cat ears are flat. So the most difficult bit was to fine tune cat ear movements."   Continued...

<p>Hanako Miyake demonstrates Japanese research project team Nerowear's 'Necomimi ' and the table shows her brainwaves at its promotional event in Tokyo May 8, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>