NEC, NEC Design (Japanese), and SGI Japan cooperated on the development of KOTOHANA. The product was demonstrated in 2006 at CeBIT – the world’s largest IT exhibition, held in Hanover, Germany.
The KOTOHANA device consists of a pair of flower-shaped terminals that are linked via wireless LAN, and is meant to improve long-distance emotional communication, Often, when people try to communicate e at a distance it is not easy for them to correctly identify each-other’s emotions. However, if the people at each end have KOTOHANA terminals, they can perceive each-other’s emotions through the changing colors of the flower-shaped terminal.
KOTOHANA operates via Sensibility Technology (ST), a technology developed by SGI and AGI, which uses intonation of speech in order to recognize and respond to different human emotions. Using each terminal’s built-in microphone, the ST engine analyzes the voice data input, and identifies the speaker’s mood. Next, the results are sent via wireless LAN to the paired terminal, which then starts to glow in a certain color that represents the identified emotion. For example, yellow represents joy and blue represents sorrow. In addition, a heightening of an existing emotion is represented by a darker shade of the same color.
This invention is part of a series of future concept designs called “Resonantware” (resonant systems) developed by NEC. The idea behind it, as stated by NEC, is creating designs “which can be used in a world where people and technology resonate with each other”.
In 2006, TFOT covered another “Resonantware” concept design by NEC called Nave, a visual communication device meant to replace web cameras and video phones for conference calls.