Loneliness can go hand in hand with materialism where shopping bags fill the void of a friend- or partner-shaped hole, which explains why there are millions of products targeted for those who feel alone. Robots have joined the ranks of many others, and from social companion robots to those who provide sexual gratification, the possibilities are endless.
Most recently, robotics researchers from Japan's Gifu University have designed a robotic hand that can make you feel like you're going on a walk and holding hands with someone. Cue the violin strings...
The team of researchers came up with a robotic hand that is made of a soft and pliable gel material, and it allegedly perfectly recreates the feel of a human's skin. The animated fingers detect pressure and squeeze back when gripped tightly. Moreover, it has a heating mechanism so that you don't feel like you're holding hands with a vampire.
The researchers didn't forget about the dreaded "sweaty hand" syndrome either. The robotic hand "sweats" through its pores by letting the moisture from a dampened piece of fabric inside slip out.
Mounted on a sliding rail, the robotic hand is situated perpendicular to the wearer's arm. Since walking hand in hand with someone is never that comfortable due to rhythm problems, the robotic hand moves back and forth along the rail to create that sensation, too.
Of course, it doesn't end there. The accompanying smartphone app plays the sounds of someone actually moving beside you, complete with the sounds of their footsteps and the rustling of their clothes.
The robot is designed the simulate the hand of a female, which is the reason why the artificial skin was given the smell of a floral shampoo fragrance. If you're interested in a male partner, you'll need to wait for "My Boyfriend in Walk" to be out.
You can watch the robotic hand in motion here: