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Only in Japan! Pocky Game aids research into ‘bite communication’

Research group Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology is working on a system which uses the nation’s popular export – the biscuit/candy sticks known as Pocky – in recording the sounds and vibrations created when biting and studying into how it can be used as a form of communication.

Basing their studies on the ‘Pocky Game’ where two eager eaters each hold an end of the candy stick in their mouth and chew to the middle resulting in a meeting of the lips, the researchers at JAIST intend to find a way for solo players to get the same thrill as their partnered pals by using those bite vibrations as signals so that the game can be played online between players across the world.

In the current tests, one real-life chewer plays off against a simulated mate or as JAIST suggests “a cartoon character or famous person” and the artificial opponent moves closer in response to the enthusiasm of the player’s chomping.

“The system nibbles the Pocky from the far end, and the sound and vibration of biting are communicated to the user. And when the user chews along the Pocky, the system’s face moves forward, so finally, the user’s lips touch the candy lips, and the game ends” says JAIST.

“We’ve used a servomotor and the lever principle to break the Pocky, and reproduce the vibration and sound of biting. We’ve also tried using gears and various other ways of breaking the Pocky. But through feedback from users, we’ve found that this method is the most realistic. From now on, we’d like to make quantitative improvements.”

As with many of these zany Japanese studies, the question is – Why?

Interestingly Pocky are made by Glico – The company which earlier this year produced a digital diva to promote its sweet range. Amie Eguchi confused Japanese audiences who believed she was in fact a real human being! Check out the Gadget Helpline’s coverage of the story – Here.    

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