Japanese robot designer and Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro disagrees. He thinks that phone calls need more hugging, so he created the Hugvie, a plushy pillow in the shape of a mono-legged Teletubby that you can embrace while you’re talking to someone over the phone.
Here’s how it works: You place your phone into a pocket inside the head area of the Hugvie and then you…hug the robot as you talk. The Hugvie comes equipped with a micro-controller and two vibrating discs that simulate the caller’s heartbeat depending on the tone of their voice.
The idea is that the Hugvie can simulate the emotions and intimacy of talking to someone in person–uh, that is if you have conversations while you’re hugging someone. You can actually buy the Hugvie for approximately $50 (3,990 Japanese Yen) from Vstone, and it’s currently on display at the Vstone Robot Center in Tokyo.
Ishiguro, who also developed the Telenoid Robot and the Geminoid humanoid bots, says that he wants to further develop the Hugive to have an internal frame, more vibrating discs, and sensors. Eventually Ishiguro wants robots that can transfer your hug to the other person’s robot much like another certain kissing machine.