I saw a story in the Toronto Star newspaper recently discussing how scientists in Japan have found a way to turn the quiet solitude of a bath into an interactive device to surf the web.
I'm impressed, but not that impressed. Baths serve many purposes: to get clean; to relax; and if you are a kid, to play in. Does one really need to surf while taking a bath?
At the University of Electro-Communication in Tokyo… (what the hell university is that?! Okay… I looked… it's actually quite impressive: SEE) - following 12 months of experiments, scientists there have managed to turn bathwater into an interactive touch screen.
Okay… I've said that a few times already… what the hell does that mean?
Koike Hideki (surname first), the lead scientists says that although the bathtub is a place where one can go and relax, he complains that people had nothing to do in the tub… which was why the whole concept was thought up.
Now… bathers can read a book, or if you are in a hurry in the morning (his translated words), you can quickly read a newspaper.
Okay… am I the only one here who sees all of the incongruities here?
1) While maybe this technology is more Asian-specific, few people in North America, anyway, have the time or inclination to take a bath…
2) and when they do, adults anyway, they want to relax… and do nothing. What's wrong with doing nothing and having a warm soak - albeit in your own filth….
3) if they want to read, they could bring a book into the tub - a real paper one - or even their E-Reader (don't get either wet, though)
4) You could also do the same with a real newspaper or iPad (don't get either wet, though)
5) If you were in a hurry in the morning, would you stop to fill the tub for five minutes and then soak for 10 minutes, when a shower could be run and done in four minutes? If you have 15 minutes for a soak, you aren't in a hurry in the morning… or perhaps spending 15 minutes soaking now makes you have to hurry.
6) And maybe it's just me… but won't my penis keep floating up to the surface blocking my interactive view of the screen?
7) If I'm having a bath… I'm either in pain of some kind or I'm alone in the house and can finally use Mr. Bubble bubble bath without anyone being around to judge me… will this work in a bubble bath?
8) Does anyone really need to go on-line while they are trying to get clean? Is there no place one can turn off technology and think your own thoughts?
9) Is it ironic that I hate this technology but constantly use it to air my own thoughts?
Anyhow… Koike also says you could also watch the morning drama before going to work. Doesn't anyone have a personal video recorder? Or a VCR? No… probably no one has a VCR anymore… so what else is there that's cool about your invention Koike-san?
How does it work?
For the liquid interactive screen to work, you must first add bath salts… apparently any will do, as long as it mask the water opaque… (oh… this can not be something one does when they are in a hurry in the morning).
Now… since your water is all cloudy… you can move the water around a bit whereby pre-determined hand and finger movements in the water are mapped in real time by a Microsoft Connect Depth Camera that then transmits the signals to a nearby computer which then translates the signals into instructions for an overhead projector which displays the images on the water's surface.
With a scoop of water or a poke of the finger, images can be manipulated just as one might on a conventional touchscreen.
Now you can check your e-mail from your girlfriend while you are naked in the tub, surf the dirty waters for porn involving golden showers or play with yourself - with a video game or two.
i wonder how fast you can delete something embarrassing should someone accidentally walk in? Do you just pull the plug in the bathtub? You wish.
Check e-mail? Can I write an e-mail? Oh gods… Auto-Correct will have a field day with my water-surface typing ability!
But, says Koike: "It's not only practical… it's educational."
Damn right, he says sarcastically. Koike says that:
The parent can now spend time and educate their children in the tub.
How is this a good thing? Can we not just allow kids to have some fun in their miserable little lives while they are still young? Can't they just sit in the tub and play with some toys?
Man… only in Japan could the concept of not allowing kids to have fun in a tub be considered progress.
"Keiko-chan, even if you become all wrinkly, you must stay in this tub until you answer all of these language questions given to you by your gaijin no sensei… I don't care if you hate studying a foreign language... you might as well learn Mandarin if we continue thinking we can take on China."
You have to admit… being frustrated with a child who would rather fool around in the tub than answer cram school questions does make it easier for a parent to accidentally drown their child.
"No one in my family ever married their cousin."
Now… on the plus side, the researchers see potential for their watery interactive device to be used in aquatic theme parks or, even more importantly, for pool-based physical rehabilitation.
But on the downside, so far they are only in talks with bathroom manufacturers in an effort to clean-up financially.
Look… I know that many families in Japan still have a bath… and that the wife wakes up extra early to make a hot bath for her husband (kids bathe at night!), but from what I've seen, the Japanese business men are probably too hung-over in the morning to want to do any Internet surfing…
But what do I know? Here I am imposing my Western ideologies onto Japanese society.
What do any of you Nihonjin think about this invention? Does it have water-wings? Will it fly? Will it be something everyone will want in the future?
And hey... could this technology be used in a Japanese Soapland?
Andrew Porn Water Joseph