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It’s no secret that in Japan selling the fantasy of an anime or video game sweetheart is big business. But is everyone with a 2-D crush simply a lonely soul using the fictional character as a substitute for a lack of real-world interaction with the opposite sex, or do some people just prefer having a virtual romantic prospect? One Japanese technology company is aiming to find out, using the power of science.

CEATEC, the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, is an annual Japanese trade show. At this year’s event, being held in Chiba Prefecture’s Makuhari Messe convention center, one of the items on display will be the Tokimeki Sensor. Created by technology developer Techmac, the Tokimeki Sensor uses optic sensors from manufacturer Rohm Semiconductor to pinpoint “the moment when a person falls in love.”

Since the sensors are picking up physical reactions, rather than actually reading your mind, it seems that “falling in love” here actually refers to that spark of initial attraction. As part of its demonstration at CEATEC, Techmac will have attractive spokesmodels on hand to say kind words to individual participants. Actually, each tester gets a double helping of sweetness, as one spokesmodel is an actual person, and the other is an anime-style character.

In the video above, we see the 2-D girl telling the participant “I’m always watching you, and see you giving your best.” The real-life model, meanwhile, tells the visitor, “You look really cool.” Afterwards, the Tokimeki Sensor will determine which spokesmodel produced the larger effect on the listener, and crown a winner.

▼ The real-life female models: Yumi Hikichi, Sakiko Otani, Aoi Tsuruta

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And since plenty of women in Japan also enjoy a little 2-D romance, there’s a male model, Kohei Munekawa, and an anime guy as well.

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A pre-CEATEC online poll asking respondents who they think will win in the showdown between Otani and her rival has 64 percent of the votes going to the 2-D cutie. Techmac is expected to release the final results once the trade show is over.

Sources: Tokimeki Sensor official website, Techmac
Top image: Tokimeki Sensor official website (edited by RocketNews24)
Top image: Tokimeki Sensor official website, Techmac (edited by RocketNews24)