Hugvie – the huggable communication medium with a heartbeat

Hugvie – the huggable communication medium with a heartbeat

The Hugvie is a cushion in a minimalistic human form. It contains a pocket into which you can put your mobile phone, transforming it into a physical communication medium. The shape of this huggable cushion is based on the Telenoid robot developed by Osaka University's Professor Ishiguro. It contains a microcontroller and vibrators which match the characteristics of the caller's voice, so people can have a richer communication experience when talking on the phone with loved ones.

"The two vibrators produce a throbbing sound like a heartbeat. That pulse can get faster or stronger, depending on the volume and tone of the caller's voice. We've used several rules like that to create the pulsing sound."

"When we gave Telenoids to seniors, most people hugged them like this when they talked to the other person. The Telenoid has various capabilities, but in its simplest form, it could just consist of a cellphone and a soft, cuddly object shaped like a person. We think this could be used by families and lovers, as well as by seniors and children."

The Hugvie is available for about US$60 from Vstone. The Vstone Robot Center in Akihabara is also holding the H. Ishiguro Design Show, from today until May 27, featuring robots and other items designed by Professor Ishiguro.

"R&D is important too, but we'd like to spread the message that, for robot researchers, it's vital to think of new designs. That's the purpose of this design show."

"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."

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