2017 No.21

Japan’s Cutting-Edge Pop


Pop Culture Technology NEWS
Next-Generation Entertainment Expands from Cutting-Edge Technologies

From carrying to wearing, these devices connect and expand the scope of dance, music and gaming. They not only make pop culture more fun but also create a new, cutting-edge world.

Smart Footwear Orphe
The performer with sneakers of light-emitting soles draws light.

Image of how vibrating music feels when wearing a speakers-installed jacket.

Wearing a head-mounted display, you’re in a Virtual Reality (VR) world of 3D.

©2016 Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Orphe
Smart Shoes with Soles of Light

The trajectory of light drawn by a performer wearing Orphe. Colors and movement change with the music, giving stimulation to the view and generating new expressions.

Not your average light-up sneakers, Orphe smart footwear links up with smartphone applications.

The soles with about 100 full-color LEDs offer a rich array of light effects. By acquiring real-time movement data with installed multiple motion sensors and connecting to the data via smartphone, various light colors and patterns can be set and sounds played from external speakers in accordance with the movement.

At a concert of famous Japanese idol group AKB48, members wore Orphe and danced. In addition, popular band Suiyobi no Campanella (Wednesday Campanella) and world-famous dancer Kent Mori all use Orphe in their performances and dance events. Orphe footwear collaboration projects, like an installation at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, are expanding.
Orphe has been on sale since September 2016. Orphe developer Kikukawa Yuya’s vision of “artistic expression from the everyday” has become a reality.

A Word with the Developer

Kikukawa Yuya
President, no new folk studio Inc.

Orphe footwear may look like ordinary sneakers, but in fact it’s a wearable computer with functions like lighting, musical instruments, and a controller. By making new software development tools available and open to the public, I believe new forms of expression will be born and will spread to many people while linking up with fashion elements.

2.Rez Infinite
A New World Created by Sight and Sound

Area X, a new stage introduced in Rez Infinite. Players experience the uniquely beautiful 3D space and floating sensation that only VR can give.

In December 2016, Rez Infinite, created by game designer Mizuguchi Tetsuya, won Best VR Game at the world’s largest gaming industry awards, The Game Awards 2016. Best VR Game was a new prize category established in 2016. VR* is “virtual reality.” Through VR games, players enter and experience a virtual world by wearing a head-mounted display.

Rez Infinite is a musical shooter game that is compatible with the PlayStation®VR VR system and that syncs with the world’s most popular home game console, PlayStation®4. As players eliminate viruses that are the game’s enemies, sound effects play and turn into music. Visual effects also happen in response to the music and change creating fresh storylines. This synergy between music and visual effects gives players a new kind of sense experience through sight and sound.

* Virtual reality (VR) is next-generation technology first developed in the latter half of the 1960s. The name generally refers to technology that creates alternate realities: a computer draws a 3D space and uses stereophonic sound to reproduce sound coming from all directions within a 360-degree circumference. Wearable head-mounted displays are essential to experiencing a VR world, and advances in this technology are accelerating its widespread use.


Mizuguchi Tetsuya
Creator and Game Designer

Humans have used a variety of methods to convey images: speech, drawing, gesture. But these only convey part of the total image. VR is the first medium to combine multiple methods of communication—sight, hearing, touch—to create a singular representation. You might say that, with VR technology, communication takes a great leap forward.

Music You Can Wear

ONE OK ROCK (left to right) RYOTA (bass), TORU (guitar), TAKA (vocal) and TOMOYA (drums)

The technology of two jackets loaded with a total of 20 audio speakers made its first appearance at a special event announcing a new song by ONE OK ROCK, a Japanese rock band who tour worldwide. Put on a WEARABLE ONE OK ROCK jacket and the speakers operate together to play music to your entire body. It’s a new and completely different music experience from listening just with your ears. At present there are only two jackets in existence, with audio design for both created by Ochiai Yoichi as “modern magician” media artist. He focused not only on improving the sound quality by fine tuning frequency and acoustic pressure but also on how the jackets feel when worn, and so he made the speakers as light as possible.

Photo: Shinto Takeshi

A Word with the Developer

Ochiai Yoichi
Assistant Professor, University of Tsukuba

Recently, virtual reality, touch technology or haptics, and how we feel via our senses are very hot topics for research. It’s been more than a century since Edison invented the first device for music playback. The evolution itself is fascinating. And now, for the first time, optics and haptics together allow us to wear music as visual fashion—as well as experience how it feels with our bodies. In short, creating speakers with great sound that are light enough to wear is a perennial challenge for any engineer, so I was very excited to work on this project.