Ja­pan firm sells hu­man pil­low cell­phone holder that can be hugged dur­ing calls

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

What’s shaped like your friend and even sounds like your friend, but isn’t ac­tu­ally your friend? Why, a hu­man-shaped pil­low with a slot in its head for a cell­phone, of course.

One Ja­panese ven­ture is look­ing to solve that prob­lem of feel­ing dis­tant when speak­ing on the tele­phone by of­fer­ing cush­ions that look a lit­tle like small peo­ple, with a skin-like tex­ture, that can hold your mo­bile de­vice.

The “Hugvie,” which has a head, a torso and short limbs — think Casper the Friendly Ghost, but with­out any fa­cial fea­tures — is the re­sult of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween robot en­gi­neers, a fu­ton ven­dor and a tex­tile firm.

Users put their phone in­side the Hugvie when mak­ing call, and then em­brace it, in what one re­searcher dubbed “cush­ion­style com­mu­ni­ca­tion me­dia.”

En­gi­neers at the Ad­vanced Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Re­search In­sti­tute In­ter­na­tional (ATR) said they worked on the prin­ci­ple that peo­ple feel closer to whomever they are speak­ing when two or more senses are en­gaged, such as 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 Ky­oto Nishikawa and industrial ma­te­ri­als maker Toy­obo said.

And it ac­tu­ally is rooted in science: re­search has shown that phys­i­cal con­tact with a sim­ple, inan­i­mate ob­ject de­creased lev­els of cor­ti­sol, the hor­mone as­so­ci­ated with stress.

The Hugvie — a port­man­teau of “hug” and the French word for “life” — mea­sures 80 cen­time­ters by 55 cen­time­ters (31 inches by 21 inches), and will sell for 10,000 yen (US$80) in Ja­pan when it goes on sale in Septem­ber.

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