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Organization aims to bring 'superhuman sports' to life before Tokyo 2020 Olympics

"Bubble jumpers," which are still in the planning stage, are seen at the Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) in Tokyo's Koto Ward, on Oct. 22, 2015. (Mainichi)

Aiming to create new and unique sports that command the use of high-tech innovations, a group of academics and other individuals established what is known as the Superhuman Sports Society in June this year -- and have been getting down to the task of conducting serious research and development.

    The society -- which hopes to hold an international competition to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games -- includes among its lineup of research topics the possibility of utilizing the popular Kamehameha wave, which appears repeatedly throughout the popular Dragon Ball manga series.

    A meeting of researchers from the society was held at the University of Tsukuba on Dec. 10 to discuss matters such as the safety of superhuman-style games. Members include co-director Masahiko Inami, 43, who is a professor at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, along with researchers from other institutions including Keio University.

    Also providing assistance are sports figures including athlete Dai Tamesue, a world championship medalist.

    The sports society plans to use inventions and innovations Japan is known for -- including games and animation -- toward technology such as robots and virtual reality to help develop and popularize sports that pair humans and machinery.

    An event was held this past July to solicit ideas for the initiative, at which time high accolades were received for submissions including a "bubble jumper." The contraption involves wearing large, spherical protective body armor made from vinyl chloride, and bouncing around in special "jumping shoes" while bumping into others who are geared up in the same costume.

    The game featuring the Kamehameha wave, meanwhile, envisions wearing a goggle-style headset, along with a band around one's arm that detects muscle movements. Beams emanating from the hands -- the 'Kamehameha waves' -- are first visualized inside the goggles, and then aimed toward other players.

    Also presently being researched by the society is a method of enabling the diabolically wild pitch known as the "Big League No. 1," thrown by the main character in "the Star of the Giants" manga series. A small drone is embedded in the ball, ensuring that pitching is delivered in such a way as to make hitting it impossible.

    "Creating new sports means that even those who do not have sports talent, like myself, may become involved," notes Professor Inami. "Someday, I hope to see a futuristic pentathlon -- and my wish is that by the 22nd century, superhuman sports will be known as a traditionally Japanese style of athletics."

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