The Japanese have a market for compassionate gadgets and the we’ve seen a few of these in action before, as you may remember the hand you can hold while chatting on your iPhone or the toy seal used to comfort the lonely. The Hugvie is another device aimed at strengthening the personal bond between man and machine.
The Hugvie is referred to as “the huggable communication medium with a heartbeat” – it’s essentially a cushion which kind of resembles a giant jelly baby. It has a pouch in which your mobile phone can sit, and inside the cute characters body is a mechanical heart that beats or pulses in response to a received voice when a call is being made. This will allow you to cuddle up to the soothing vibration and supposedly experience a physical interaction when talking only verbally with a loved one. The faster or more enthusiastically the person on the other end of the phone speaks the more the Hugvie reacts.
The Hugvie is a product of the Osaka University, the same institute that birthed the lonely lady robot which appeared in a shop windows this past Valentine’s Day. The brainchild of Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, the boffin wants to make future Hugvie models more human-like to feel like an actual person. For now the original is available in Japan for ¥3,990 which is around £30.