Hugvie: The human-shaped pillow making phone calls less lonely

Japan is no stranger to unusual inventions, but the advent of a human-shaped pillow that makes you feel less lonely while making a phone call is pretty out there.

Hugvie aims to make long distance communication feel much more personal, even providing “skin-like texture.”

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The device is essentially a small cushion that users can place their mobile phone into, enabling them to hug the device and talk into their phone at the same time. Hugvie isn’t intended to be lifelike – it doesn’t have any facial features – but simply looks to mimic physical contact. The device has been designed by robotics engineers, Kyoto Nishikawa and textile firm Toyobo and is being dubbed “cushion-style communication media.”

Scientists at Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) began developing Hugvie after discovering that humans feel more connected to others when multiple senses are being used, in this case hearing and touch.

“Hugvie is a simple device that uses voice and tactile senses. It creates a strong sense that the user is hugging the other person, a feeling that cannot be attained via mobile phones,” ATR and its collaborators explained.

Hugvie is also capable of interacting with your handset, giving real-time haptic feedback when you hug or talk to it, providing a more immersive experience.

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Hugvie measures 80 centimetres by 55 centimetres and will cost 10,000 yen (£50) when it is launched in September.