Could that really be a 20-foot tall cat just hanging out in the vacant space of a Japanese retail centre? Don’t believe your lying eyes. It’s actually a 4K billboard screen that only looks 3D. And while video of the cat billboard has gone viral, it’s slightly less impressive when you look at the image from across the street.
The new billboard is a curved display measuring 155 sq km and appears in the Shibuya subway area of Japan, according to a report from Sora News 24. The new glasses-free 3D billboard actually made its debut in China last year with some very cool spaceship demonstrations.
— 新宿東口の猫 (@cross_s_vision) July 5, 2021
What’s the catch? The video only appears three-dimensional from one particular side of the street. There’s a video livestream of the billboard on YouTube, but don’t expect to see something in 3D from that. Not only does the cat only appear periodically in between 2D ads at the moment, the livestream shows an angle that doesn’t look anything like the angle above.
As you can see in the GIF we’ve made below, the magic is definitely ruined if you see the 3D ad from a different angle.
Ouch. Not nearly as impressive.
While it’s just a cat for now, the billboard company promises more 3D content starting on July 12, according to a press release. Though it’s almost a certainty that you still need to see the ad from the right angle to make it appear 3D.
“This giant calico cat wakes up in the morning with the start of the vision and falls asleep at night with the end of the broadcast. During the day, it appears between regular broadcasts and you can even talk to passers-by!” the company said in a statement.
It may not be perfected yet, but there’s a nugget of coolness in there. And if you’re thinking it all looks familiar, you’re not alone. Does it feel like we’re getting a little bit closer to our Blade Runner future? No, not the 1982 version, though that certainly has its place. The 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049 brought the billboards of the original into the mid-21st century.
Granted, a kitty cat isn’t quite the same thing as the hyper-sexualized hologram robot Joi played by Ana de Armas. But the technology has similar ends. Rather than watch the brightly coloured video sales job that’s become passé in the first two decades of this century, advertisers are trying to push the medium even further into the realm of the real.
No, we’re not in the world of Blade Runner 2049 yet, given the fact that our 3D billboards have plenty of limitations. But you can bet that it’s just around the corner. Because while large chunks of humanity can’t seem to figure out things like providing housing or affordable health care for everyone, you can be damn sure advertisers will find new ways to sell us shit we don’t need.
What a world.