Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Virtual girlfriends—an idea Hawaii can steal from

by Larry Geller

Check out the technology in this article, Resort Attracts Men With Virtual Girlfriends (Discovery News, 8/30/2010).

I guess I can appreciate this phenomenon because I lived in Japan. It is the kind of thing that happens there.

But can’t Hawaii adopt this technology (no, not the virtual girlfriends, … though, why not…).

There was “Lost” and all the other stuff that tourists know and might want to share “augmented reality” with.

Here’s a snip from the article that will give you an idea of what’s going on.

One recent sweltering summer's day, a tour bus from Tokyo pulled up at a sun-kissed beach at Atami, a Pacific coast resort southwest of the metropolis, and disgorged more than a dozen excited, iPhone-clutching young men.

The determined youngsters, paying scant attention to the bikini-clad girls frolicking on the sand, instead headed straight for a bronze statue that depicts Kanichi and Omiya, a couple from an old love story set in Atami.

The focus of the men's attention -- and of their smartphone cameras -- was a tiny black and white square, a two-dimensional barcode that, thanks to "augmented reality" (AR) software, brought to life the object of their desire.

"Look, it's like I'm in a snapshot with her," said Shu Watanabe, 23, as he showed off his iPhone display, featuring himself next to the image of a doe-eyed cartoon character named Rinko, a smiling high school girl.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority should study this. What Atami can do, we can do. Or can we?

[Side note: most every August 26  we reserved our favorite hot spring inn part way up the mountains in Atami to watch the fireworks. With a tokkuri of chilled sake to share, the view from the deck was spectacular. It was as though the fireworks were going off right in front of our eyes.

Atami is known for its special fireworks displays. Japanese fireworks always put the American variety to shame, and in our experience, Atami was the best of the best. The displays are not just one chrysanthemum burst after another. They are sculpted, orchestrated, evanescent works of art.

Add to that an outdoor hot spring and great food, and each visit was a special day to remember.]


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