LAS VEGAS — I literally wandered into the invitation-only Casio press conference by mistake, having left a Ford event, ducked under a curtain and found a packed room. Toshihara Okimoro, Casio’s senior general manager of signage, was on the podium with a few gals to serve as his Vanna Whites.
What they unveiled seemed deeply weird to me, and intensely Japanese. You know those cartoons like "Speed Racer" where the lips move and the eyelids blink but everything else is unnaturally wooden? That was Casio’s new “realistic animated messages” to a T. For $10,000, the store owner buys this machine that takes still photos and makes them “talk” with a synthesized voice. Not talk well, but talk. In a bunch of languages, too: English, Spanish, Korean, whatever you want.
We saw chefs, ice cream people, a talking bull, all of them unintentionally hilarious. I’ve been to Japan twice recently, and I saw a lot of things like this in store windows. Okimoro said this was the key to “getting ahead of the competition” and getting them in the store.” Sure, in Japan. Americans are likely to head for the hills. Of course, if you're a big anime fan (and the U.S. does have legions of them), this is all totally normal.
Tech Radar wrote:
Casio demonstrated a grocer introducing his fresh produce, a male model hawking his apparel, a chef talking up his Italian cuisine. By far, the most interesting Casio digital signage demo was a talking hamburger that was cutesying up its fast food. This talented burger could speak in a variety of languages including English, Chinese, Korean and Spanish.
If for some reason you didn't spend Saturday mornings glued to "Speed Racer," here's a taste — the 1967 theme song:
OK, I’m buying that. If you’re used to Japanese animation, it looks normal. Otherwise, well, it’s distinctly weird.