It would not surprise me to learn that pent up sexual energy is one of the main driving forces behind Japan's technology sector. This would explain why the country has developed a rash of electronic innovations for simulating human relationships. About a year ago I wrote about the Japanese resort town that caters to men and their virtual high school girlfriends, offering sightseeing destinations rigged with scanner codes that allow these men to take photos with their superimposed electronic lovers. A few months ago I wrote about the first kiss transmission device developed by Japanese researchers for making-out with online lovers. Now, the Japanese have developed a technology that allows you to hug yourself, or a friend, via a mannequin.
When you hug the disembodied "Sense-Roid" torso, sensors interpret and mimic the hug in real time through a vest on the user's chest that vibrates and inflates with air pressure.
The machine seems to be the brainchild of the same young genius at the University of Electro-Communications who developed the kiss transmission device. Why do I suspect it is the same student? Perhaps because he proudly demonstrates how to use each device in separate news reports while wearing the exact same hoody.
There are no plans to mass-produce the Sense-Roid in its current form, but I suspect this is not the last we have seen from this robotics student. He seems to be dedicating his budding career to electronically recreating every type of intimate, human interaction. If I had to bet, I would place my money on this kid to be the first to combine all of these physical technologies to make a love doll that recreates the motions of a real, or virtual, lover.
Judging from how the student attacks the machine with his hugs in the video below, I would not be surprised to learn that he does not have much experience with real life embraces. But, one day soon that may not mater as he'll have a robot that can satisfy his every physical need.