For requests for interviews or materials on Hugvie, please contact: ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratoies ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) .
Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) has developed a "human presence" transfer media called "Hugvie®" that enables users to strongly feel the presence of remote partners while interacting with them. Through research and development of other robots such as "Telenoid® R1" (press release August 2010) or "Elfoid® P1" (press release March 2011), we have found that hugging and holding these robots during an interaction is an effective way for strongly feeling the existence of a partner. "Hugvie" is an epoch-making communication medium that can strongly transfer the presence of an interaction partner despite its simple shape.
Along with the advancement of research and development of the communications media, using tele-operated robots as communication channels, a type of media that can convey the speaker's presence to a remote place began to emerge. This is the advent of a new communication style that by giving entity to media makes it possible to interact with a distant partner as if that person is located in front of the user. At Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory (ATR), in order to implement new telecommunication media that transmit the human presence, we have developed tele-operated androids such as Telenoid and Elfoid based on the minimal human design that consists of only minimum necessary elements of appearance and movements as a human. Through these developments and researches, we realized that by holding and hugging androids during interaction, not only auditory information but also touch information from the other person are conveyed and therefore it becomes an effective way for feeling an intense presence of the partner. By focusing on this effect, it is possible to induce a similarly strong sense of presence through a simpler device.
The recently developed Hugvie, is a "hug pillow" type of communication media for talking in a hugging state. Its body is mainly a cushion that is formed similar to Telenoid and Elfoid to effectively convey a sense of human existence. While holding it close to body, users speak to people in far locations through their cellphones inserted into a pocket in its head. Moreover, it is equipped with a vibrator inside that generates vibration for reproduction of heartbeats that can effectively convey the human likeness and human emotions. These heartbeat vibrations that vary in synchronization with the partner's tone, strengthen the presence feeling originated by voice. (For example, when the vibrations of heartbeat change in line with voice volume of the talk partner, the increase in that person's feelings are transferred by voice and vibration, and therefore users feel their partners closer to themselves) The comfortable feeling of cushion, the sense of hugging one's partner, the partner's voice heard from somewhere close to ear, and the reproduced vibration that conveys heartbeats in alignment with that voice, all help to sense an active presence of the partner and intensify the affinity toward him/her. Although the transfer of information is merely through voice and vibration, it is an innovative communication medium that embodies the minimum required elements for transmitting a humanlike presence.
Hugvie is a practical presence-transfer media that allows anyone who has an ordinary cellphone to simply talk to a partner while feeling his or her presence. It is most effective for the interaction between people with close relationships such as parents and kids, grandparents and grandchildren, couples, lovers, friends and etc. it is expected to have an increase in the sense of intimacy during the interaction through hugvie. Also we expect that hugvie increases the communication motives and chances for those who experience lack of opportunities for human communication.
The name "Hugvie" which is a coined term of the English word "hug" + "vie" (meaning "life" in French) gives the meaning "embracing life", certainly a medium that gives you the feeling of embracing your partner.
In future, we will continue our development research regarding the effective vibrations that can transfer the feeling of presence. In addition, we plan to use tactile sensors to measure the state of speaker in order to develop a media that can convey the presence feeling by vibration even in the absence of speech and therefore achieve the ultimate form of presence transfer.
Hugvie's main features are as below: