Using the Telenoid 1 robot shape as a basis, Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro has created Hugvie.
Basically the user inserts their cell phone and communicates with another person while hugging them, having a much richer experience.
The Hugvie can also vibrate at a frequency that simulates a heartbeat.
Hiroshi Ishiguro hopes to add more sensors and have two Hugvies on either end of a conversation interact more with each other.
We’d like to develop this into a robot with an internal frame. We could build in lots of vibrators and special sensors, so that when you hug it, the other person’s robot moves as well. So far, I don’t think there has been a really soft robot. If we make this one a bit more complex, we could create something that really feels like a person while you’re hugging it.
The robot is currently available from Vstone for 3,990 yen or about $50 US.