The most viral internet cat of the moment is a virtual kitty trapped in a billboard in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan.
But if you've been paying attention, you know that this is just the latest in a trend toward digital billboards that mimic a 3D effect to give passersby a sense that the experience is pushing itself in your reality.
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The first big splash this dynamic make was actually in Seoul, South Korea, Japan's neighbor to the west, just last year via a display appropriately called WAVE featuring a continuous series of virtual waves appearing to crash against the glass container of the billboard.
This growing use of the effect, called an anamorphic illusion, doesn't exactly mirror the holograms of Blade Runner cityscapes, but the impact has been so powerful that digital signage companies are ramping up their use of the technique.
The catch is that the massive digital signs need to be viewed at just the correct angle to experience the full 3D effect.
South Korea's WAVE viral moment was produced by a local firm called D'strict, and was just one in a series of stunning anamorphic illusion digital billboards that included a virtual whale floating above pedestrians and a group of ghostly humanoids who appear to penetrate the boundaries of the screen.
Then, over in Chengdu, China, LianTronics launched its own massive 3D-mimicking display which included what appeared to be the Star Trek Enterprise spacecraft docking in its spaceport right in the middle of the city.
In the case of the new Tokyo 3D feline, the display was created by Yunika and MicroAd Digital Signage to promote Cross Shinjuku Vision, a new event space located near the east exit of the Shinjuku train station, one of the busiest street crossings in the city.
Currently, the cat display is in testing mode, showing up nine times a day, but it will appear more frequently (sleeping, staring at pedestrians, and doing other cat things) beginning July 12. There's even a live stream YouTube channel that allows you to witness the giant installation. Oh, and if you're confused by the sound the cat makes when it does appear, just note that in Japan, instead of "meow," cats are thought to utter a "nyaa, nyaa" sound.
As with mobile phone culture before the iPhone, Asia seems to be first on this new tech-powered outdoor advertising trend. So far, the most impressive version of this dynamic we've seen in the West was in London a few weeks ago via a small Nissan installation.
Nevertheless, it's likely only a matter of time before we see these kinds of faux 3D displays gracing the concrete canyons of New York City and other major US cities.
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