Augmented reality lets go on a date with virtual idol Hatsune Miku.
Over the course of the past couple of decades, Japan has firmly established itself as the number one “WTF” country on planet Earth. The endlessly entertaining nation is responsible for some of the most interesting trends ever created, from highly-stylized Anime, to used underwear vending machines. No, for real. Look it up… So to be perfectly honest when it was revealed that a new cafe in Japan would be setting up patrons with a virtual date using augmented reality technology, it didn’t come as that much of a shock to anyone.
Developed as part of a promotion with telecommunications provider au/KDDI and Crypton Future Media, patrons of the Blue Leaf Cafe in Sendai, Japan were given the opportunity to share time, as well as some food and drink, with vocaloid megastar Hatsune Miku. Using a collection of smartphones preloaded with an updated iteration of the AR program Miku Stroll entitled Miku Stroll Cafe Edition, select patrons were able to enjoy a lovely virtual afternoon with the digital popstar, sharing food, posing for photos together and even just enjoying some light conversation.
Customers were also treated to a variety of Hatsune Miku-themed food and drinks from the 700 yen ($6.34 USD) Miku Summer Tropical Soda and 650 yen ($5.88) Miku Latte, to the 800 yen ($7.20) roll cake or 900 yen ($8.15) Mike Sandwich. Visitors also had the chance to pick up limited edition character art drink coasters, because why the hell not?
While the actual Miku AR experience only ran July 8, 9, 15, 16 and 17, these Miku-focused treats were available July 8th to the 31st. There is still time to grab a Miku Latte before they’re all gone! All the studs may have wined and dined Hatsune already, but at least you can make yourself feel a little better by crying away your pain into a delicious roll cake.
Japan has a fascinating relationship with its many fictional characters and entertainers, with fans often developing a deep appreciation for these animated personalities. This has even lead to some of the more dedicated fans going as far as to actually marry their virtual “waifus.” As virtual and augmented reality continues to progress, it’s highly-likely these immersive platforms will play an integral role in the future of the virtual girlfriends/boyfriends trend. So long as companies continue to plaster Hatsune’s face onto every conceivable surface available, you’ll hear no complaints from me.