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Sense-Roid invention provides the illusion of a natural hug
June 30, 2011 | William Zimmerman
Hug machine on show in Japan
Thu Jun 23, 2011
by AFP, via Australia's ABC News
AFP - Japanese inventors have pushed the frontiers of technology with the ultimate companion for lonely singles - a wired torso-shaped device that you can hug and that hugs you back.
The Sense-Roid looks like a tailor's mannequin with silicon skin and is packed with pressure sensors.
It is connected to a jacket worn by the human user that replicates the embrace with the help of air compressors.
The illusion of a mutual hug with the half-humanoid is enhanced by artificial muscles and vibrating devices in the tactile jacket, according to the inventors from the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo.
"Many people initially feel surprised and uncomfortable about the unusual experience, but they gradually get accustomed to it until they feel comfortable and pleasant," said research team member Nobuhiro Takahashi.
"Usually people feel nothing, or they even feel bad, when they hug strangers, but they experience feelings of satisfaction, love and comfort when they hug a boyfriend or girlfriend.
"We wondered how humans would feel if they could hug themselves."
He added that the device could be used in medical therapy and to give comfort to elderly people living alone. However, there were no immediate plans to put the gadget into commercial production.
The Sense-Roid is on display at the 3D & Virtual Reality Expo in Tokyo.
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