Professor Adrian Cheok of Keio University’s Mixed Reality Lab has been a pioneer in blending the internet and the physical world, producing creations like Petimo, which allows kids to send hugs to each other over the internet; and Huggy Pajama, a similar solution for kids whose parent might be away. Projects from Mixed Reality Lab emphasize the importance of physical touch in a world where communication is drifting away from that particular sense.
Professor Cheok now has a new project in the works that iterates on this philosophy of blending physical touch with the internet. The RingU is another device that transmits these internet hugs, but it does so in a far more compact device. Using a ring connected to your smartphone by Bluetooth, signals can be sent to a paired ring over the internet. You can see a quick overview of RingU in the video below.
When you want to communicate a sort of virtual hug to your partner — and it could be a family member, a lover, or just a good friend — you squeese the ring, and your partner will receive this ‘tele-hug’ in real time. So even when separated by huge distances, you know that a person far away is thinking of you at that very moment. There are even different types of hugs which you can send — mini, intense, and urgent — depending on the situation.
You can also control the color of your partner’s ring according to whatever emotion you’re feeling at the time. There’s also the accompanying mobile app which partners can use as a private social network to share messages, photos, videos, thus complementing your physical hugs with the other types of communication you’ve become used to in this mobile age.
You can read more about the project over on the Mixed Reality Lab website, or view the project’s fund-raising page over on Campfire. So far the project has raised 110,000 yen (over $1,100) of its 300,000 yen goal.
This is part of our “Crowdfunding in Japan” series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, and the story above is a prime example.