I don’t know how they ever believed this would work. How could they not have tried this? But really, it’s strengthening my belief about how technology advances in Japan. Briefly:
Here in the United States, we get trickle-down tech. It’s a hand-me-down from the feudal system, I think: some lab-rats test the hell out of a product until they think it’s ready for us, then we graciously accept it as proven and ready. In Japan it’s a little more democratic: someone takes an idea, prototypes it, and immediately deploys it, regardless of how flawed or ridiculous it is. Videophones? Alive and flourishing. Underpants vending machines? Weird, and probably flourishing. Age verification camera? Fail. They just put it out there and it failed. They accidentally sold some kids some cigarettes (at least they didn’t sell them panties) and now they’re working on something better. The system works!