You may have seen toys, gadgets or smartphone apps that digitally alter your voice, changing your gender or age or making you sound like a robot. Essentially, they work by adding filters to your voice. However, yesterday, attendees in the cosplay area at the winter edition of Wonder Festival, a semiannual event showcasing "garage kit" sculptures, were astonished to hear what sounded like the well-known voice actors Hiroaki Hirata (One Piece, Space Brothers, Tiger & Bunny) and Kotori Koiwai (Non-non days, Ai-katsu) calling out.

When our grape Japan staff arrived on the scene, a crowd of onlookers had gathered around what sounded like Kotori Koiwai asking everyone to walk in an orderly fashion and avoid running through the cosplay area. Expecting to see the well-known voice actress in person, we did a double take when we realized that the source was a middle-aged man holding what looked like a colorfully decorated megaphone.

We had stumbled upon a demonstration of Animegaphone, a remarkable device which can analyze your voice and then instantly synthesize it using the pre-programmed voice of someone else. According to their press release, it uses something called "Rea-Change Voice" technology developed by Crimson Technology Inc., which "enables instantaneous matching between two voices through real-time analysis and statistical voice quality recognition."

At crowded venues, the Animegaphone is intended to be used to control crowds by creating an attention-grabbing voice. According to Mr. Kobayashi of TBWA Hakuhodo, who was fielding questions at the demo, although using these famous voice actors would obviously be effective at venues such as Wonder Festival where attendees would more likely be familiar with them, it is also possible to program other voices into the device.

The representative from Crimson Technology Inc. explained that the Animegaphone also works with English and languages other than Japanese, to a certain extent. Since the device is only currently programmed to recognize the Japanese language, sounds with no equivalents in Japanese, such as the French "r" cannot be recognized in its current version. Nevertheless, Mr. Kobayashi expressed hope that the Animegaphone would be available outside of Japan in the future and, without making a specific promise, expressed an interest in taking it to foreign anime conventions.

Animegaphone is made possible through a collaboration between TBWA\Hakuhodo, Crimson Technology Inc., Yukai Engineering Inc. and internationally renowned designer Fantasista Utamaro, who created the pattern evocative of comics, manga and anime.

Here you can see the control panel, with the microphone on top, a volume dial, indicator lights, and buttons to select voice and change settings.

If you would like to learn more about Animegaphone, please see their official website here.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.