Hi, it is Dr. NISHIO Hirokazu. Did you already read Quma: 3D Motion-Capture Figure For 3D CG Production (Video) | TechCrunch or The Washington Post? I'm very glad to see a lot of people are interested in the project. Unfortunately, there are less information in English than in Japanese. I'll write about them.
COO of 'cool' + MA of 'mama'. It is similar to the word 'KUMA'(bear) in Japanese. It is because early prototype was put in teddy-bear skin.
How much? It must be expensive!
There are no official announcement about the price. However, SoftEther said "the selling price will be between 10000 JPY and 20000 JPY" on 2009/10/30, with showing QUMA prototype. (ref. 1) In my humble opinion, it will cost much, 2 or 3 times. However it couldn't possibly imagine that it costs over 100000 JPY. Again, it is my humble opinion, not an official one.
SoftEther said CELSYS、ViVienne, 3D-GAN and University of Tsukuba are the contributor of the project. (ref. 2)
CELSYS is selling software to make illustrations, comics and animations. It is nice if those soft supports QUMA directly. It seems possible.
ViVienne got a subsidy to a 3D-related project from MEXT(Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) (ref. 3). SoftEther got the subsidy form MEXT too. SoftEther colocates with Tsukuba Univ. It seems those three players are cooperating tightly.
Additionaly, the figure designer ASAI Masaki tweeted about his contribution. (ref. 4) He is very popular as a creator of figma, action figures with exchangeable faces and modules.
SoftEther said, the joints of QUMA are modular and can be re-assemble, so you can make various animals like camels, snakes etc, not only human. In my humble opinion, no one use snakes as snakes, but tentacles. ;)
(ref. 1) 3Dキャラの動きをぬいぐるみで操作、個人用モーションキャプチャ -INTERNET Watch
(ref. 2) 報道発表資料 - 開発中の「QUMA」技術を応用した 3D モーションキャプチャ装置を公開
(ref .3) IPA：2007年度第I期「未踏ユース」採択概要
(ref. 4) http://twitter.com/#!/masakiapsy/status/93823167306530816