In the early 1950s, American mathematician and engineer Claude Shannon built a device that looked like a simple wooden casket with a single switch on the side. When the switch was thrown, the lid would rise slowly and a mechanical hand would emerge from beneath. The hand would slowly reach over to the side of the box, flip the switch off and retreat back into the box, whereupon the lid would snap shut.
Shannon called the device the “Ultimate Machine,” and since its invention, it has been reconstructed and revised under a number of different names, such as the “Useless Box” or “Leave Me Alone Box.” While all of these iterations are entertaining in their own right, a recent video by a Japanese university student has the internet buzzing that, more than 50 years later, Shannon’s Ultimate Machine may have finally been perfected.
The video above was submitted to Niconico by creator Kairoshi (lit. “Circuit Master”), a male Japanese university student.
Kairoshi calls the machine the “Zenjidou Hikikomori-ki”, or “Fully-Automatic Hikikomori Machine,” where hikikomori refers to Japanese adolescents and young adults who withdraw from social life and spend nearly every day confined to their homes.
This temperamental little box not only comes with all the features (well, feature) of the Ultimate Machine, but is also equipped with a set of radio-controlled wheels for mobility and a dynamic LED faceplate that can express a range of emotions.
More precisely known as the Hikikomori Machine 2, this is actually Kairoshi’s second Hikikomori Machine and a significant upgrade, both aesthetic and technological, over his bulky first creation, the Hikikomori Machine 1:
Like the machine itself, Kairoshi single-handedly produced the video from start to finish, using a Sony NEX-5nd camera for filming, store-bought fireworks for special effects and Windows Movie Maker for editing. Titled, “I go all out against a Fully-Automatic Hikikomori Machine,” the video shows Kairoshi struggle to match wits with the Hikikomori Machine in an epic battle between man and machine.
Since being posted to Niconico on October 18, the video has received close to half a million views and has been featured on several Japanese television programs. Kairoshi hints at the possibility of an upcoming retail version of the Hikikomori Machine on his blog, saying that he’d personally like to sell do-it-yourself kits of both Machines 1 and 2. He has also created an official Hikikomori Machine website, which already contains a free downloadable 3D model of Machine 1.