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Japanese company makes virtual shadow boyfriends to help protect women who live alone


Not only is Tokyo Japan’s largest city in terms of population, it’s also where you’ll find, by far, the most educational, economic, and artistic opportunities. Because of that, many young people head to Tokyo when they move out of their parents’ home, in order to be closer to their workplace or college.

Because most Japanese people don’t really like the idea of having a roommate, a lot of these young people end up living alone, including young women. But while Tokyo is much safer than large cities in many other countries, crimes do happen, and criminals often consider young women who live alone to be easy targets.

To help address this problem, and also to put the minds of female tenants at ease, apartment management company Leo Palace 21 has developed what it calls the Man on the Curtain system, which is shown starting at the 1:15 mark in the video below.

Using a projector controlled by/attached to a smartphone, Man on the Curtain throws a silhouette of a man onto your curtains, so that when people outside look at your windows, there will appear to be a guy inside, thus masking that you live alone.



If you’re wondering how that’s better than just putting a cardboard cutout by your window, Man on the Curtain is full-motion, projecting videos of actual actors (in silhouette) for an extremely lifelike look. Currently, the system has 12 different options, including such intimidating routines as a boxer throwing practice punches, a marital artist going through a karate kata, a bodybuilder working out with dumbbells, and a sports fan swinging a baseball bat around.


▼ Shadow boxing/boxing shadow

More relaxed choices include a guy vacuuming...

... and doing yoga, which seems like it could double as a fitness video that you could do yourself in tandem with your shadowy protector.

Since it’d be easy to deduce that a short loop is a fake, each video is roughly 30 minutes long, with a variety of motions. Leo Palace 21’s introductory video doesn’t get into the specifics of how the system is operated, it seems like it’d be easy to program it to cycle from one routine to the next, which would give you about six hours of silhouettes before any footage needs to be repeated.

Granted, some of the options, such as the man vacuuming or playing guitar, aren’t going to be as effective if a would-be criminal is close enough to the window to notice the lack of sound. But the images themselves are very convincing. While the Man on the Curtain isn’t something that Leo Palace 21 is commercially offering just yet, it is giving away five prototype units, and applications can be submitted here.

Source: Leo Palace 21 via IT Media

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and criminals often consider young women who live alone to be easy targets.

Do they? Based on what evidence?

For as long as I've read JapanToday, I don't recall reading even a single crime story about someone breaking into an unknown woman's apartment because they knew the woman was alone there. Certainly I remember reading about assaults from parties who knew the woman, even if through online connections, and who gain access to the apartment through their social connection with her. And certainly stranger danger can be said to exist in the form of random sexual assaults on the train or police officers and university professors taking upskirt photos around escalators (not that those careers are the only people who do it, but they seem to feature surprisingly high in the stories that get reported.)

So is there a whole category of crime news not being reported to us? Or is this not really as big of a problem as the advertisement suggests? My bet is that this is technology looking for an application, and some unscrupulous salesman at Leo Palace 21 just decided to capitalize on young women's anxieties about living alone for the first time to sell them a gadget they don't really need and which won't actually protect them.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I seriously doubt if this will deter any potential burglar, but I'm sure it will give the paranoid women some sense of security, albeit a false sense, so I guess it's a good idea. However, the negative point I see is, most young single women living alone are on their phones 24/7. In order to use this app they would have to put their phones down.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Maybe I'm just world weary but I think this might be of most use to women who have ex-boyfriends stalking them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There have been some reports of lone women having their apartments broken into but most assaults seem to occur in public places.  this product is just playing on paranoia.  Seems like a pretty useless gimmick to me.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A Japanese guy vacuuming?

11 ( +12 / -1 )


thought the same

2 ( +2 / -0 )


0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am sure someone will not be fooled because it is obviously a recording. They may even say, hey there is a woman living alone.

I laughed at the karate guy. I've seen children with better kata form.

They would be better off with some mace.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So no stealing panties

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This will certainly get the neighborhood baa-chans waging their tongues at the supposedly single woman in apartment who apparently now has a male suitor who is not registered on the lease.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Nice observation, SumoBob!

But maybe there's a business opportunity for a fella to do various half hour shadow performances and sell them to the needy!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are various other options, though I do not know how well they would work in various parts of Japan. One is to keep some male garments amid one's laundry if hung to dry. In general, there is a great divide between the neighborhood group to which one would report (e.g.) one's taking a trip and leaving one's flat empty, and the possible cronyism of the thieves. I suppose one could report to one's neighborhood the fact that one has no male roommate, and still avert thieves with the advertised silhouettes. A more radical approach--rooming with a 100% gay man--is reported taken by more the a few unmarried women when the stalkers are annoying with cries like "clean ass" or "what's wrong with this [nationality deleted] stallion?" I do not know how this would go over in Japan, and I suspect it would not be needed so much. Charles Williams ("The Image of the City and Other Essays") reports the idea without requiring a "gay" person; and C. S. Lewis is said to have innocently taken in his WWI roommates' mother and sister. These two were in the same INKINGS writers' group.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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