4 The Geeks ! 4 the Geeks

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Need an 'e-hug' ?

Do you want to hug your girlfriend or parents who are miles away? Till now it might be impossible but no longer it is thanks to the innovative invention of James Teh, interaction and entertainment research centre, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He developed a 'hug-suit' to hug anything ranging from humans to poultry.

According to Teh, people will soon be able to touch their pets or children
across cyberspace with his innovation, that seeks to transmit sensation via

"Poultry Internet" is Teh's immediate focus, especially since he feels strongly about chickens, saying that though they are badly treated they make highly intelligent pets.
The "Hug" technology involves the pet fowl wearing a wireless, sensor-rigged jacket", moving inside its coop in the "home" set-up, and being tracked by a video
camera. The information is transmitted via the internet to the "office" set-up,
wherein a 3D model of the pet moves exactly like its live counterpart.
When the owner touches this model, the instructions are translated into data and reproduced as a series of vibrations, on the jacket worn by the hen. Teh said that the system which is being tested, will give the chicken the feeling of being touched by its owner. Teh has been working on this project for 2 years, along with center director - Adrian David Cheok and center manager - Lee Shang Ping.
Of course with the recent alarm raised over the possibility of an "avian flu" pandemic spreading across large parts of South East Asia, one wonders as to why anyone would want to touch a chicken... whether actually or virtually...
However Teh's "Poultry Internet" technology promises to be just a fore-runner to the real thing i.e. "human-to-human virtual hugging".
Teh plans for children to wear wireless, sensor-rigged "pyjama suits", similar to the chicken "jackets". Each suit will receive signals via the internet, and interpret the data to adjust to changes in pressure and temperature. In effect, children will
actually get a "hug" from their parents and vice-versa, if parents wear these suits as well.
Cheok expressed the view that there will be a huge demand for these suits, especially with parents going out frequently on business, and hugging and touching being considered inseparable parts of communication.

Source: Tech Tree

- Sujith Tom


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