A warm ‘hug’ brings in the much needed comfort and assurance at times of distress or difficulties. Perhaps that is why researchers at the University of Electro Communications, Tokyo have developed a hugging machine that replicates the emotional gesture with the help of a humanoid device fitted with pressure sensors.
The hugging unit comprises of a ‘Sense-Roid’ that is shaped like a human torso and a ‘tactile jacket’ to be worn by the user. The jacket has in-built artificial muscles and vibrating devices that interact with the Sense-Roid when hugged or stroked to simulate the feeling. The device was exhibited at the Industrial Virtual Reality Expo 2011 in Tokyo.
Researcher Nobuhiro Takahashi has stated 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.”