Visitors star in their own manga at Tokyo’s advanced technology exhibition

Visitors star in their own manga at Tokyo’s advanced technology exhibition
The Manga Generator system at the Advanced Technology Exhibition Hall @tepia in Minato Ward, Tokyo enables visitors to jump into a manga scene.

TOKYO - Line yourself up with the manga speech bubbles or background art projected on a screen, strike a pose, and the Manga Generator system will put you into the scene.

It's just one of the fun programmes offered at the Advanced Technology Exhibition Hall @tepia in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

The facility operated by the Association for Technological Excellence Promoting Innovative Advances (TEPIA) gives visitors a chance to experience 50 different forward-looking technologies developed by universities and companies.

I tried the Manga Generator myself, posing in the middle of a full swing punch in front of a drawing of an enormous hole on a thick concrete wall projected on a screen. The system created a scene of my fist breaking through the wall with a "Don" (Bang) sound effect, scrawled in large letters.

Visitors have up to 10 seconds to pose after the balloon or background are projected.

The system uses motion capture technology to read the movements of people into a computer. It was developed by the Kanagawa Institute of Technology to "let people enter the world of manga and make up the story as they go along".

The Manga Generator extrapolates the emotions of visitors from the locations of their elbows, armpits and backbone, and creates onomatopoeia to fit the pose. In addition to the wall-smashing scene, visitors can become heroes by "hurling a huge meteorite" or "fighting an unidentified creature" as well.

If visitors are too shy to move forcefully enough, no onomatopoeia appears or the background goes dark. Each visitor can print their finished scene and bring it home as a souvenir.

"I really enjoyed it. I felt like I had absolute power," said Hikaru Toda, a third-year student at Yashiro Middle School in Kato, Hyogo Prefecture, who visited on a school outing.

Yuriko Nishioka, a publicist for the facility, said, "We set aside complicated explanations of the technology, and designed the facility so visitors can just enjoy a hands-on experience with the featured technologies."

The facility features many other systems to entertain visitors, such as the Virtual Fitting, which allows visitors to discover what colours are best suited to them as their image is projected on a screen showing clothes in various colours. The Bio-Texture Modelling displays faithful reproductions of human organs and bones created using a 3-D printer.

Yuri Mitani, a 39-year-old homemaker of Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, who visited the facility with her one-year-old daughter Rena, said, "I look forward to seeing how the exhibited technologies are actually put to use in our lives when my daughter is older."

The facility opened in 1989 and covers five themes, including lifestyle and security. In keeping with the themes, displays include a robot that can carry on conversation and an artificial arm that can be controlled by brain signals. The facility's goal is to feature advanced technologies, so displays are renewed each year.

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