Can a seven-foot tall, 55 pound, $123,000 robotic suit save the Japanese economy? A quirky, satirical video demonstrating the wonder of a useless new product called the Powered Jacket MK3 pokes fun at that sort of technological-optimism that envisions every “next big thing” in technology as a potential economic windfall.
“I believe robot tech led by the powered suit […] will play a significant role for the re-establishment of Japan,” declares Scarface Santaro, the spokesman for the product made by Sagawa Electronics. With a face covered in scars, he explains how this massive carbon fiber exoskeleton can help humans run, reach for things, and even cook. “Regarding the upper body, the thoughts of the controller are instantly relayed to the power jacket through the motion master slave system. It is also possible to delicately operate the fingers, and as you can see, can even hold an egg.” It’s all part of some viral marketing for the new Ghost in the Shell movie, but it does paint a fun picture of a future cyborg-filled world.
A smiling Japanese school girl demonstrates just how easy it is to use the suit, while a suitless peer looks on, her face twisted with envy. A spectacled man takes the suit on a tour of town and sits down at a food stall to eat ramen. The absurd product’s launch is accompanied by a manga comic series depicting a world 30 years after the jacket has caught on.
Viral marketing aside, the video questions our uncertain relationship with robotics and overeagerness to be early adopters. Before humans make the plunge into inserting cyborgian robotic elements under our skin and into our brains, the video seems to ask, we can take the temporary step of wearing them.