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Getting to the bottom of those GPS panties

If you've seen this and thought it might be a hoax, you were right. The site, Forget-Me-Not Panties, claims to sell panties with a GPS tracking device built into the waistband.

The idea is, you give them as a gift to your girlfriend or wife without telling her about the tracking feature. After that, you'll always be able to tell where she (or, at least, her underwear) is. From the Forget-Me-Not Panties website:

These panties will monitor the location of your daughter, wife or girlfriend 24 hours a day, and can even monitor their heart rate and body temperature.
Based on pioneering research developed by the U.S. military at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), we have brought this revolutionary technology, previously only available to the military, to you!

These "panties" can trace the exact location of your woman and send the information, via satellite, to your cell phone, PDA, and PC simultaneously! Use our patented mapping system, pantyMap®, to find the exact location of your loved one 24 hours a day.

The technology is embedded into a piece of fabric so seamlessly she will never know it's there!
So, how do we know this is a hoax? Well, for one thing, it seems unlikely that a pair of panties could hold a GPS tracker without the wearer knowing it's there. It's even less likely that the panties could monitor a woman's heart rate and body temperature. Also, how do you replace the battery? What happens if you wash them? And the name "pantyMap®" is pretty goofy.

It's also suspicious that the panties are all listed as sold out, so you can't actually order any. That's a clever way to disguise the fact that there aren't actually any panties to sell.

Listed at the bottom of the page in small print, the name of the Japanese company supposedly making these panties — Panchira — also raises a red flag. "Panchira" is Japanese slang for catching a fleeting glimpse of a woman's underwear beneath her skirt.

So far, so good. But we need proof.

Our next step: the company's address. It's given as "27th Floor, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan Building 2-24-5 Yurakucjo, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo". Sounds reasonable. There is indeed a Chiyoda-ku in Tokyo, and Yurakucho is part of it. And the misspelling of Yurakucho as "Yurakucjo" doesn't raise much of a red flag, since it could just be a typo.

But then we come to a fatal flaw: The address 2-24-5 Yurakucho does not exist. The correct address of the Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan building is Yurakucho 2-10-1.

The final piece of the puzzle comes from checking the website's source code. There, we find the following:
<frame src="http://www.forgetmenotpanties.contagiousmedia.org" frameborder="0">
So it turns out the website, which appears under the URL www.forgetmenotpanties.com, is actually drawing all its content from a different location here, that's part of the "contagiousmedia.org" domain.

The Contagious Media Project, run by a fellow named Jonah Peretti, aims to launch funny or interesting memes and see how far they spread. Jonah is also Director of R&D for Eyebeam, a New York production studio that's running the Contagious Media Showdown — a contest to see who can devise the website that draws in the most unique visitors between May 19th and June 9th.

Note that the sites don't have to be hoaxes. They just have to attract as many people as possible. So far, Crying While Eating is the leading entry; Forget-Me-Not Panties are in second place. Other sites in the running include Autoblogger, which I posted about here, and Blogebrity, which actually includes me on its "C-List" of blog celebrities.

As it turns out, I'm not the first person to figure this all out. But I am probably the only one who used Japanese address-finding site Mapion to do it.

FOLLOW-UP:
Mr. Pink notes that the Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan has far fewer than 27 floors. He's right.

ANOTHER FOLLOW-UP:
Online Media Daily (part of the Media Post Publications website) has more on the Contagious Media Showdown here.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's some mighty-fine cyber sleuthing. Well done. 

Posted by Dave

Anonymous said...

And, last time I visited the Kotsu Kaikan it was only about nine stories high as I recall. 

Posted by Mr. Pink

Anonymous said...

I dont know what the purpose of your website is, but if it was to amuse, it's doing an awesome job! 

Posted by Tris

DEViNA said...

Wow, that's some research. Very weirdly interesting!!

Anonymous said...

you don't have to lie to kick it! 

Posted by pemo

Anonymous said...

What a shame. Well, not that the wired panties are a hoax, but that the technology may not be true.

Think about it, a GPS collar for your dog, a hidden GPS tracker in your car, bicycle, etc.

I feel the wired panties is pretty much useless but for other uses, the small sized technology could be priceless.

Nice research, I'd never have guessed the Kotsu Kaikan information was false.
LarC 

Posted by LarryC

Anonymous said...

I feel the wired panties is pretty much useless but for other uses, the small sized technology could be priceless. 

Posted by yellow pages

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