Welcome to the world of tomorrow… today

So, after many promises of pointless technology available in Japan, I finally found two things that almost qualified – and in the same department store, on the same day no less, in the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo station.

The first is a floor-mounted splashing simulator:

You can swish your feet through the water, which ripples out in a very convincing fashion.

A camera and projector in the roof point downwards at the floor, which displays lots of different mini-games:

… like this virtual soccer game, where you can kick around a ball. You never have to play actual soccer again! Thank goodness.

There were also some other nice ideas like a fish-stomping simulator (they swim away when you step on them) and finally, something that will literally make flowers blossom wherever you might walk.

Next up: the biggest gesture screen I’ve ever seen:

Of course, it took about 10 minutes of pounding on the screen to limited effect before realizing that you actually have wave your hands about 10 centimetres in front of it. As a gesture / interface enthusiast, I was giving the nearby security guard quite the show as I ran back and forth playing virtual harp and virtual volleyball.  I think I may have even looked cooler than Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

Oh, so that Google thing says that maybe this isn’t so new after all. Looks like it’s been around since at least 2003, and some guy has made some neat-o videos that gives an excellent demonstration of how it works.

Actually, my initial comment aside, and although these are both games, they are very promising interfaces that I can think of lots of good uses for. For instance, I would like the Reactrix machine in my house so every night could be Saturday Night Fever night. It would project a flashing disco floor and then give points based on the reflective index of your shiny, satin, flared pants.  Afterwards, you would spend some quiet time marveling at this age that we live in.