Want a hug? Get a robotic pillow.

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Doctor Q, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #1
    New York Times article (free registration required)

    NSF-funded research at Carnegie Mellon University has produced a robotic pillow that gives senior citizens "warmth and tactile sensations approximating the embrace of family members". The pillow is shaped like a human torso, complete with arms, and is covered with velour. It is activated remotely and is designed to let a grandchild send hugs to a grandparent over a phone line. It's not yet a product, just a research version.

    Is this a helpful invention? The idea behind it is nice, but it seems a little creepy to me.
     
  2. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #2
    I don't think that it is creepy. Human beings need hugs, the close contact of another human being. Not really sure if this mechanical device will completely be successful. It's the human touch that's important. Volunteers from churches could provide that service. Because talking is also important. Another method that is very successful for the elderly is the use of dogs. Studies have shown that the dogs are a very relaxing presence. It can be demonstrated by showing a lowering of the blood pressure. This is done during the petting process. Something alive and warm has a more positive effect.
     
  3. aricher macrumors 68020

    aricher

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    #3
    I read this article in the paper the day it came out and was struck by how sad it was. The photo of the elderly person hugging an electric pillow as a suplicant for a grandchild was heartbreaking.
     
  4. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #4
    What if grandparent and grandchild live in different time zones? Would it allow pre-scheduled hugs like a VCR or alarm clock? Why not send an auto-hug for somebody's birthday, even if you forgot the date yourself? How secure will the communications be? How long will it be before a hacker starts sending hug commands to grandma's house?

    I suppose they can work out bugs like this, but I think a dog, a real person (whether related or not), or somebody on the phone would be better than an embrace from a hugbot.
     
  5. Mr_Ed macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Yes, it is sad how neglected many seniors are. I still agree with DoctorQ in that I think it's kind of creepy. I've heard of programs where they take pets (dogs and cats) to nursing homes and the seniors really seem to like that. It may not be contact with a human being, but at least it's freakin' alive. I think I prefer that over a mechanical contraption.

    The whole neglect thing reminds me of a story. A few years ago my sister was walking around a shopping mall (I think it was a mall) with my two nieces. The older one was probably about 7 or 8 years old at the time. My sister stopped to look at something and apparently my oldest niece caught sight of an elderly woman with a walking cane standing nearby. For whatever reason, my niece felt compelled to approach her. Before my sister knew anything was going on, my niece said "Hi!" to her and threw her arms around her. At first, my sister says she was a little embarrassed that my niece 'intruded' upon a stranger, until she saw the woman's reaction. The woman put on a huge smile, put her arms around my nice, said "Hi!" and held on to her for a moment. Then she said "Oh thank you so much! No one has made me feel important in a long time!" I'm sure it's not the same if you don't witness it first hand, but my sister still gets choked up when she thinks about that incident. We don't know what my niece saw that compelled her to do what she did, but on that day, she made a difference. We all need that "human touch" now and then. I just wish more of us thought like an 8 year now and then . . .
     
  6. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #6
    My daughter has always been like that: likes talking to old people, and thinks they're all cute.

    But yeah, the whole idea of needing a robot pillow is really sad. A mechanical pillow won't be glad to see you. It won't ask to be hugged. A dog will.
     
  7. mcadam macrumors 6502a

    mcadam

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    #7
    Super interesting thingy. It's much more than just a mechanical hugging robot. It's controlled, in real time, by a similar device which needs to be hugged by another person for it to work... It seem to be a mix between a mobile phone and one of those game controls for plane and car simulators that also give you physical feedback, shaking, wheel getting harder to turn...

    The only thing that really doesn't make sense to me is that they think this will make sense to grandparents?!

    Obviously, what this technology is really made for is long distance sex :D


    A
     
  8. palusami macrumors regular

    palusami

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    #8
    do they make one that will choke your ex? :p

    kidding of course...
     
  9. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #9
    This reminds me of the impetus for a lot of the research in Japan on building "personable" robots to care for the elderly.

    On one hand, since this thing is theoretically directly remote controlled, it's a high-tech alternative to a card with some Xs and Os on it for giving long-distance hugs. On the other, it seems like a tragic attempt by people too lazy to offer an older human being some contact with a living thing, figuring that building a mechanical substitute is close enough if they're senile enough not to be able to tell the difference, or desperate enough not to care.
     
  10. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #10
    A simple retasking of the equipment...

    Gives you a whole new meaning to phone sex. :eek:
     
  11. AmigoMac macrumors 68020

    AmigoMac

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    #11
    I'm pretty sure this picture was posted before, but just to remind you...
     

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  12. aricher macrumors 68020

    aricher

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    #12
    OK - that picture is just plain creepy. I guess kids raised with those sort of things will need hugging pillows in their golden years.
     
  13. Raid macrumors 68020

    Raid

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    #13
    :D I was thinking of how a horror movie director would use one of the "robotic" huggers. Isn't the japanese one shown just a pilliow with no 'hugging' robotics? While the idea is nice, it still would be a poor substitute for the real thing.
     
  14. AmigoMac macrumors 68020

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    #14
    Yeah, it's without robotics, a first step to the right direction, now if they include a totally functional hand... :p
     
  15. aricher macrumors 68020

    aricher

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  16. AmigoMac macrumors 68020

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  17. palusami macrumors regular

    palusami

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    #17
    looks like the hand is trying to goose her rather than giving a hug!
     
  18. Hemingray macrumors 68030

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    #18
    LOL, my thoughts exactly. :D However, that is the "man pillow", it's a different thing from what this article is talking about.
     
  19. mymemory macrumors 68020

    mymemory

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    #19
    If I have a girlfriend some where else and she has one of those and I get one too are we gonna be able to... you know :rolleyes:

    Is there a possitions manual too? you know... if my gf go to travel and she is at the hotel in another country I could call her pillow and... you know :D

    Or if... :D
     

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