London: Good news for Internet buffs! You
will now be able to reach out and hug one another, as Japanese
scientists have created a new wearable robot which they claim
creates the sensation of physical contact.
The `iFeel-IM` robotic device simulates sensations
such as heart beats, hugging, stomach butterflies and spine
tingles among those wearing it, according to the scientists.
Lead scientist Prof Dzmitry Tsetserukou of Toyohashi
University of Technology in Japan, said the iFeel-IM robotic
device was designed to add a human touch to the ethereal world
"We are steeped in computer-mediated communication --
SMS, e-mail, Twitter, Instant Messaging, 3-D virtual worlds --
but many people don`t connect emotionally. I am looking to
create a deep immersive experience, not just a vibration in
your shirt triggered by SMS. Emotion`s what give communication
life," `The Daily Telegraph` quoted him as saying.
The result of five years of research, the new device
-- whose name stands for I Feel Therefore I Am -- consists of
a collection of sensors, motors, vibrators and speakers woven
into a series of straps.
Software created by Alena Neviarouskaya, a
researcher at University of Tokyo, decodes emotional messages
embedded in written text, triggering the appropriate touch
response within the robot, say the scientists.
The device is capable of distinguishing nine emotions
including joy, fear, interest, guilt and anger with 90 per
cent accuracy resulting in corresponding physical sensations
such as squeezes and increased warmth in the user, they say.
The robotic creation was among a string of futuristic
interactive devices showcased at the first two-day Augmented
Human International Conference held in the French ski resort