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Tuesday, 9th June 2015
In General Japan News,

Japanese firm invents Hugvie to make phone conversations more personal

A collaborative project between some robot engineers, a futon vendor and a textile firm in Japan has resulted in a new product to help make speaking on the phone feel more personal.

The Hugvie is a cushion in the shape of a small person, which has a slot incorporated into it that allows the user to insert their mobile phone, reports AFP.

Complete with a texture not dissimilar to skin, the Hugvie holds the phone while you are speaking to a friend and in theory, it is almost as if they are a presence in the room.

While the Hugvie does not have any facial features, it does have a small head, torso and short limbs, which can be lifted and cuddled as you converse with a loved one over the phone.

Experts in the industry describe this advance into a niche in the market that many people probably did not realise existed as cushion-style communication media.

According to engineers at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), people feel closer to a participant in a conversation if two or more senses are engaged.

In the case of the Hugvie, the idea is to stimulate both hearing and touch to create a more rounded experience.

A statement from ATR and its collaborators Kyoto Nishikawa and industrial materials maker Toyobo, said: "Hugvie is a simple device that uses voice and tactile senses. It creates a strong sense that the user is hugging the other person, a feeling that cannot be attained via mobile phones."

How popular the idea will be is yet to be seen, as the Hugvie is yet to go on sale, with an initial entry into the market planned for September.

It will retail for 10,000 yen (£52.70) and measure 80 centimetres by 55 centimetres in size. The name for the invention is a coined term originating from the word hug in English and vie, meaning life in French.