It starts with a ‘friend request’, then a random Skype chat, and soon enough winky-faced emoticons are being thrown around all over the place. However, chat rooms have intimacy limitations and sometimes even the steamiest of cyber romances could use a little tactile affection. Luckily, researchers are developing ways to help eLove birds cuddle up without leaving their couch.
Researchers at Kajimoto Laboratory, at the University of Electro-Communications have developed ‘The Sense-Roid jacket’ which enables the wearer to effectively hug themselves.
The Sense-Roid jacket is a two-part system: a jacket for the user and one for a silicon mannequin both embedded with 20 pressure sensors.
When the user ‘brings the mannequin in for the real thing’, the mannequin’s jacket sensors transmit signals to the user’s jackets. This causes the user’s jacket to contract its six built-in artificial pneumatic muscles, called McKibben actuators, which effectively mimics the position and force that the mannequin’s jacket received from the user’s hug i.e. it hugs you back!
Right now, this technology is designed for the lonely and friendless, but we think somewhere in this quirky fashion statement is the potential for long distance hugs.
‘If you wanna know, if your virtual hunny loves you so’,… you might just be able to follow Aretha’s full-proof method. The same Kajimoto Laboratory researchers allowing us to hug ourselves are also working on developing a device that transmits the feeling and sensation of a kiss over long distances.
The project is still in development and right now can only replicate and transmit the feeling of a tongue. So while you can’t make-out with your digital hunny, quite yet – you can practice by yourself 🙂