Most people’s first exposure to the Japanese “neurowear” line of robotic animal parts likely came last year when the designers behind the movement debuted the “necomimi” cat ears. On first inspection these ears appear to be a pretty standard pair of fluffy, triangular clusters of fur attached to a hard-plastic headband, but once you fit the necomimi onto your head you’ll find that the ears languidly sway, flatten and perk up depending on your “mood” (or, at least, what the device determines your mood is based on its suite of biometric sensors).
Not content to merely offer its customers the opportunity to enter public looking like an anime stereotype, the designers behind necomimi are now working on a new project in the same vein. Dubbed “shippo,” the latest addition to the line takes the same basic principles that have made the necomimi ears such a surprising international success and applies them to a fluffy, cat-like tail. As with the ears, the tail will wag, droop and stiffen depending on your mood, but as an added bonus, the shippo device also comes with novel social networking features. Like some kind of emotional Foursquare, the shippo is able to broadcast both your current location and mood.
Those of you who read the above text or watched the demonstration video below and suddenly find yourselves desperately wanting to purchase a robotic, faux appendage are going to be in for a bit of disappointment. Currently, the shippo is only a prototype, and as far as anyone seems to know, the Japanese designers behind the gadget have yet to disclose plans to make the tail widely available to consumers. Actually, it’s so far from official release that it hasn’t even been added to the official neurowear website. Given the breakout success of the necomimi ears however, we have to imagine that the designers will eventually release a consumer-grade version of the shippo, if only so the forward-thinking customers who purchased the necomimi ears can properly accessorize their outfits with a full complement of borderline-cybernetic augmentations.