Roboticist creates Hugvie - Huggable vibrating pillow smartphone accessory

May 01, 2012 by Bob Yirka weblog

(Phys.org) -- Japanese robot designer Hiroshi Ishiguro is fast becoming a sort of roboticist for the people, in Japan anyway. Instead of terminator style robots meant to do a lot of serious work or to serve on the battlefield, his robots are soft and cushy, cute and perhaps a little smooshy. He’s also created a robot in his own image. Now he’s introducing something he calls the Hugvie, a robot that looks sort of like a generic mono-legged human baby, or perhaps a doll with no eyes, fingers or toes. It serves as the medium through which people converse in a new way using a smartphone. While holding, or pressing the Hugvie against the face, it vibrates slightly at the same frequency as the voice on the other end, adding another degree of intimacy to the conversation. At least that’s the idea.

In reality, it’s a stuffed pillow with a little pocket for holding a cell phone. When in use, a hidden gadget listens in and converts the sounds it hears to vibrations which it sends through the pillow to the person holding it.

Ishiguro, an Osaka University professor, and inventor of the Telenoid R1, which has been described as an animated outsized fetus that talks, spoke at a press conference in Tokyo recently, to announce the debut of Hugvie. He said that the actually has two vibrators inside of it and that together they are meant to mimic the sound of the human heartbeat. He added that the vibrations can be customized to allow for softer or stronger pulses as they respond to the volume and strength of the voice on the other end of the line. He added that his team has already tested the Hugvie in several environments and that , especially senior citizens, tend to hug the little pillow bot when speaking with someone close to them.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The idea behind the Hugvie is to add another dimension to the experience of speaking on the phone with someone in intimate ways; taking pillow talk to the next level if you will, providing that feeling of being there with that other person who really isn’t. The vibrations are meant to reproduce the sensations people would experience were they able to talk to one another with their faces, throats or chests touching, as people often do when lying down with one another while conversing.

Currently, the Hugvie is only available (in a variety of colors) to customers in , but if interest spreads, as with any other consumer product, it will almost certainly be made available to customers elsewhere.

Via: DigInfo TV

Explore further: Tim Cook puts personal touch on iPhone 6 launch

Related Stories

New robot 'Cheetah' breaks land-speed record

Mar 06, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Up till now researchers at Boston Dynamics have demonstrated four legged robots that appear meant to carry heavy loads as they tromp through and over rough terrain (e.g. Alpha Dog and Petman, LS3). Now it appears they’ve taken a different approach in looking ...

Recommended for you

Tim Cook puts personal touch on iPhone 6 launch

22 hours ago

Apple chief Tim Cook personally kicked off sales of the iPhone 6, joining in "selfies" and shaking hands with customers Friday outside the company's store near his Silicon Valley home.

Montreal VR headset team turns to crowdfunding for Totem

Sep 18, 2014

A challenger in the virtual reality headset marketplace has launched a crowdfunding campaign to get the project off the ground. The headset is called Totem. The company behind Totem is Montreal-based Vrvana. ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Telekinetic
not rated yet May 01, 2012
If I was having a shouting match with someone on the other end, I would hope that they were hugging an effigy that landed some well- placed punches.
hopefulbl
not rated yet May 01, 2012
new meaning to the term "PILLOW TALK"
hyongx
not rated yet May 01, 2012
haha sooooo weird.
I mean, most the people I talk to don't vibrate, even in person. And i usually can't hear their heartbeat.
Also, it's an amorphous blobby pillow.
Props to the japanese for once again creating a super-strange merging of technology and social interaction.
tekknerd
not rated yet May 01, 2012
It may seem weird to many, but having spent way too much time in a dementia care facility, I think a lot of these seniors would benefit from something like this. They often get no visitors, and would appreciate something to hug.
HealingMindN
not rated yet May 01, 2012
If they hook it to a video game, they can have hugvie breathe fire and shoot sparks out of its eyes.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet May 02, 2012
Wow... This would be another breakthrough, blockbuster product for Sony as a follow up to the Sony Rolly...

http://www.youtub...dKi77G20