Coming soon: Online hugs

Email and messaging over the internet may be great ways to communicate, but Singapore scientists are seeking a way to transmit hugs in cyberspace.

    Hugs will be simulated by pressure changes in a suit

    Researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have devised a prototype that allows "touch" to be transmitted over the internet by way of a vibrating jacket, a report in The Straits Times said.

    A wireless jacket for chickens or other pets can be controlled with a computer and gives the animal the feeling of being touched by its owner, researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) told Monday's edition of The Straits Times.

    Researcher James Teh, 24, calls t

    he prototype "poultry internet". It is only for chickens at the moment, but he envisions it being used for pets and children.

    He says it is to help people communicate with children and pets wherever they might be.

    How it works

    A pet fowl, wearing a wireless, sensor-rigged jacket, is captured on camera moving inside its coop. This image is transmitted over the internet to the owner in a different location, who gets to see a model of the chicken moving.

    "These days, parents go on a lot of business trips, but with children, hugging and touching are very important parts of communication"

    Adrian David Cheok, NTU Interaction and Entertainment Research Centre director

    When the owner touches the model, the signals are transmitted and reproduced as a series of vibrations on the chicken's jacket.

    The equipment does not even need a high speed connection, taking up only four bytes a second, according to the Straits Times report.

    "I wanted to come up with something novel, and this is important because people tend to focus heavily on human-to-human interaction," the paper quoted Teh as saying.

    The next step would be to use the same concept to transmit hugs over the internet.

    Importance of hugging

    Adrian David Cheok, NTU Interaction and Entertainment Research Centre director, explained the motivation for the project. "These days, parents go on a lot of business trips, but with children, hugging and touching are very important parts of communication," he said. 

    The team is thinking of a wireless pyjama suit for children, which would use the internet to adjust pressure and temperature to simulate the feeling of being hugged.

    Parents wearing a similar suit could be "hugged" back by their children, the newspaper said. 

    Teh and Cheok, along with Lee Shang Ping, the centre manager, have been working on the project for two years.

    There are no indications yet of how much the system would cost.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.