New Cell Phone Will Stare Into Your Soul

ElfoidLast year roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University unveiled the Telenoid, a toddler-sized robot designed to “transmit the presence” of a person remotely. The idea is to have webcams track a user’s face and head movements and then have the robot mimic those movements, which is supposed to increase the “humanness” of the interaction despite the fact that the thing falls smack into the Uncanny Valley.

Ishiguro and his colleagues have now shrunk the Telenoid into the Elfoid, a prototype cell phone that allows callers to “feel each other’s presence.” So you call somebody, and their Elfoid wriggles to life in their shirt pocket, and after they’re finished pissing themselves they can totally bask in your telepresence.

Please join me in being utterly unsurprised that this thing is Japanese.

Anyway, the designers feel that a more humanoid design (which will ultimately be able to exhibit facial expressions and make gestures) will overcome some of the limitations of voice-only communication. It’s an interesting idea, and I can already foresee all sorts of interesting customizations being possible. I can also foresee these things being a major plot point in at least one horror movie in the next five years. Yeesh.

(Cross-posted at The Art of Darkness)