Robot Mannequin Lets Humans Love Themselves
CREDIT: University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo / Robonable
Anyone who feels uneasy about watching a person caress and stroke a robot partner may want to back away from the "Sense-Roid." The tech demo at the annual Virtual Reality Expo in Tokyo provides a possible peek at how future humans may interact with their robotic friends. Really, they're just friends.
The Sense-Roid combines a mannequin torso with a high-tech jacket that responds to a human user's interactions with the same general motions and force, according to AFP. That makes the device created by the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo something of a self-love machine, as seen in demonstration videos dug up by PopSci.
When a person strokes the Sense-Roid, micro switches embedded in the jacket detect the motions. An array of vibrating pager motors then feeds the force back to the human user. Similarly, pressure sensors detect hugs so that the jacket can inflate certain actuators to simulate a return squeeze. Either the human or the mannequin can wear the jacket.
One of the videos describes the sensation of "hugging or stroking yourself" as making the Sense-Roid the "ultimate partner." The device also has silicon skin to replicate the feel of human skin.
No plans exist to take this beyond a prototype. But it's not hard to imagine similar technology applications helping future robots provide a comforting hug to people in nursing homes, or to kids in a classroom setting.
The sight of humans users caressing and grabbing at the Sense-Roid also provides a reminder that today's single person can find love or sex with virtual partners and a growing array of technological outlets. Yet going down that road brings to mind the Internet meme expressed by YouTube user dagsbot, who commented on a Sense-Roid video: "Forever alone ..."