If you've ever craved the warm embrace of someone on the other end of the phone, perhaps you need a huggable robotic pillow in your life.
The Hugvie, invented by Japanese professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, vibrates in response to your loved one's voice - speeding up and slowing down depending on tone and pace.
The cushion is shaped in a "minimalistic human form," according to the narrator in a video about the product. If you put a phone into a pocket at its top, where it's head might be, it becomes "a physical communication medium."
People test out the Hugvie, a robotic pillow that has a simulated heartbeat. (YouTube)The Hugvie also contains two throbbing vibrators, which pulsate inside its chest, mimicking a human heartbeat.
"We'd like to develop this into a robot with an internal frame," said Ishiguro, who teaches at Osaka University.
"We could build in lots of vibrators and special sensors so that when you hug it, the other person's robot moves as well."
The Hugvie is just the latest device seeking to mitigate space between two people who are trying to stay close despite being apart.
Others include the kiss messenger, or Kissenger, developed to add a new dimension to wistful Skype dates by allowing long-distance lovers to simulate smooching through robotic lips.
There is also a furry robot named Lovotics who, much like a loyal puppy, pursues its owner for affection. And if you'd prefer a more human companion, the mini-surrogate, a small human robot, serves as a stand in for someone you miss.
What do you think of the Hugvie and other devices that simulate affection? Do you find these ideas cute or creepy? Share your thoughts with us in the field below.
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)
More entries for category: Science & Technology
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